There were some likable things about last night's "Carmen" by the Prince George's Civic Opera, a production that attracted the company's first sold-out house in its 10-year existence. There was a sexy title heroine in Adelle Nicholson, a true mezzo with a flexible, lyric voice that may someday make her a wonderful Carmen. There was also the fine Escamillo of Donald Frank, and the soubrette charm of Janet Crisali as Micaela. Dale McKinley was a commanding Zuniga, and there was some nice moments in Gene Tucker's Don Jose.

For the rest, well, one has to take the good with the camp in such matters. Lacking provinces, the USA has suburbs; and provincial practices do flourish there. The orchestra was underpitched, the chorus was simply not of operatic quality, and the conducting by Dingwall Fleary vacillated between anemic and just vulgar. The English translation was often vile.

It was also cruel to use the Opera Comique version of Bizet's opera in this case, since none of the singers could handle all the spoken dialogue without embarrassment. Directed by Dorothy Biondi, the action played much like those amateur skits that Lucy and Ethel used to put on behind Ricky's back. Cute, but hardly what this passionate masterpiece can be. The program will be repeated tomorrow afternoon.