It may be the dead of winter, but plans are under way for two new area summer arts events.
The first, announced earlier this month, is two weeks of free performances by the Shakespeare Theatre at the Folger.
Performances of the "Merry Wives of Windsor" will be held June 4-16 at Washington's Carter Barron Amphitheater in Rock Creek Park off 16th Street, which seats more than 1,000. The performances will be directed by Michael Kahn, Shakespeare Theatre artistic director, with Pat Carroll as Falstaff.
Dubbed "Shakespeare! Free for All," the program represents the resurrection of a Washington tradition of offering free summer performances of Shakespeare. For two decades in the 1960s and '70s, the National Park Service sponsored free summer productions at the Sylvan Theatre on the Mall.
The NPS is again sponsoring the productions, along with the Washington Post, the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation and the AT&T Foundation, among others.
"If our mission is to produce the highest quality classical theater in a way that makes it accessible to wider and more diverse audiences, we must level the financial barrier and the restrictions imposed by the size of our own performance space," said Mr. Kahn in announcing the program.
For information, call (202) 547-3230.
The second event is the inaugural University of Maryland International Marian Anderson Vocal Arts Competition July 10-20 and the concurrent First American Vocal Arts Congress July 16-20.
The congress, to be headed by baritone Sherrill Milnes, will include symposiums about and performances of American song. The competition has already attracted 1,500 applications from the United States, Canada and abroad, according to Janet Dowling-Hill, director of public relations for the performing artists division of the University of Maryland, College Park.
The Anderson competition, which is to be held every four years, in effect takes the place this year of the International William Kapell Piano Competition, which has been made a biennial event and will be held next in 1992. The Anderson competition will alternate with the university's International Leonard Rose Cello Competition in intervening years.
The finals of the Anderson competition will be held July 20 at the Kennedy Center, with accompaniment by the National Symphony Orchestra. First prize is $20,000, plus a recital at New York's Lincoln Center in November.
Ms. Dowling-Hill said it was decided to make the Kapell competition, held for the 20th time last summer, a biennial event to allow for opportunities for career development in other disciplines and to increase the impact of the event on the winner. As an annual event, the winners of the Kapell competition "became history after a couple of months," she said.
For information, call (301) 405-6540.
The Walters Art Gallery continues its events held in conjunction with the exhibition "Islamic Art and Patronage: Selections from Kuwait" with a daylong symposium Saturday beginning at 9:30 a.m.
The symposium, "Patronage of Art: Preserving Culture in the Islamic World," will be moderated by Esin Atil, curator of the exhibit and historian of Islamic Art at Washington's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery. He will be joined by five other scholars of Islamic art.
The cost of the symposium is $15; $12 for members, students and seniors. For information, call 547-9000, Ext. 237.
The following auditions are coming up:
*The Colonial Players of Annapolis, for the musical "Working," today at 2:30 p.m. and Tuesday at 7:30 at the theater, 108 East St., Annapolis. Men and women from early 20s to mid 60s are needed. Black actors are particularly sought.
* Act Two Dinner Theatre, for a production of "Hansel and Gretel," tomorrow from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the theater at 8014 Pulaski Highway. Actors and actresses ages 6 to 19 are needed and all parts are open. Call 882-0970.
* The Heritage Players, for "Oliver," Friday at 7 p.m. and next Sunday at 1 p.m. at Ames United Methodist Church, 9 Walker Ave., Pikesville. Men, women and children of all ages are needed and all parts are open. Call 837-3390.