A program of challenging movement and meaty drama opened Maryland Ballet's new season last weekend at Goucher College in Towson. In only one item of four, though, did the choreography summarize its music. That was a set of August Bournonville's dances, performed untidily but with enough spontaneity to make the steps sparkle like country dew.

Linda Kintz and Mark Mejia, the "Flower Festival" couple in the Bournonville, looked well-rehearsed in a new "Sylva" duet by Frederic Franklin, who blends subtle British linearity with grander Russian style. The result, in this instance, was too strong for the fine, French texture of Leo Delibes' score. Kintz, sleek in a high-waisted gown, was secure in difficult balances and alert in stitch steps; Mejia had the speed for his aerial solo but tensed for takeoffs and landed stiffly.

"Sebastian," John Butler's deadly-serious staging of a tale of Venetian intrigue, gave Sylvester Campbell the chance to suffer sensuously. Practically undressed as a courtesan's slave, without playing down any of the hedonism, he had a dignity that almost rescued one of Menotti's best scores from banal dramaturgy and turgid choreography.

In "Grosse Fuge," Hans van Manan contrasted strong visual effects, especially muscle-flexing and body line, to comment on merging sex roles, but overlooked the complexities of Bethoven's music.

The program will be repeated at the Lyric Theater in Baltimore Oct. 31.