Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.

Those who sing opera in an English translation face two serious dangers: that it may come out sounding like Gilbert and Sullivan and/or that the words will be so blurred they might as well have sung it in French, Italian, German or all three.

The Washington Civic Opera eluded both dangers Thursday night: the first one by performing "CARMEN," which sounds like no opera but itself and strikingly unlike "H.M.S. Pinafore." From where I was sitting, the second danger was also avoided: at least 90 per cent of the words came through as clear as a bell. Informants from further back in the auditorium tell me that this was not equally true everywhere - but for that I think we must blame Constitution Hall, not the Washington Civic Opera.

The name of the game in community opera is cutting corners, and for this production the Civic Opera decided to save money on scenery and invest in voices. The results were most gratifying, particularly in Sandra Walker's striking performance of the title role - volatile, petulant, seductive and (most important of all) deep and rich in her mezzo tone.John Sandor as Jose was almost equally impressive; the supporting cast was expert and Richard Weilenmann drew a polished, enthusiastic performance from the orchestra and chorus.