The Monteverdi 'Vespers,' often called "of 1610" to recall the date of their publication in Mantua, are among the monuments to greatness by this composer. Their style combines his operatic triumph in the "Orfeo" of three years earlier with a spacious manner appropriate to the larger implications in the texts. The instrumental introduction to the "Vespers" is note for note, the same music with which Monteverdi introduces "Orfeo."
The "Vespers" will be performed on Friday night, Feb. 4, in the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception by the Oratorio Society under the direction of Robert Shafer. The soloists will include Sondra Harnes, Dorothy Krikorian, Ellen Lang, Gene Tucker, Michael Warren, Marvin Finnley, Allen Crowell, Robert Dobie and Reilly Lewis. Tickets are available from the Oratorio Society, 9003 Friars Road, Bethesda, Md., 20034. Details by calling 543-7062.
The Opera Society opens its production of "Madama Butterfly" on Feb. 2, with repeats on Feb. 4 and 6. The last of these is the usual 2 p.m. Sunday matinee. Imre Pallo will conduct with Frank Rizzo as director. The cast is headed by Yasuke Hayashi in the title role, Judith Forst as Suzuki, Ermanno Maure as Pinkertoh, Ronald Hedlund as Sharpless, David Cornell, singing the Bonze, Andre Lortic the role of Goro, Joseph Galliano as Prince Yamadori, and Martha Snoddy as Kate Pinkerton. All performances are sold out, but standing room will go on sale each performance day.
The Phillips Collection will present a free special concert on Monday, Feb. 7, at 8:30 p.m., when pianist Jacob Krichaf plays Haydn, Schumann and Debussy as a part of the Symposium on 20th-Century Canadian Culture now going on in Washington. The Phillips is showing the work of seven Canadian landscape painters, an exhibit that will run through Feb. 20.
Dimitri Kitaenko, chief conductor of Moscow's Stanislavsky and Nemirovich Music Theater, will be guest conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra in the Kennedy Center on Monday, Feb. 7. He will conduct an all-Russian program of Mussorgsky, Shostakovich and Scriabin.
The public is invited to hear the D.C. Federation of Music Clubs Young Artists Auditions on Feb. 5. They will be held at 1:30 p.m., in Tawes Fine Arts Center at the University of Maryland. There will be no admission charge.