Peter Russell, administrative director of the Wolf Trap Opera Company, admits the company's slogan ("See and hear the opera stars of tomorrow, today") is somewhat "corny." But the phrase is not too far from the truth. Barbara Kilduff, who sang in the company's production of "The Magic Flute" last summer, recently won a silver medal in the vocal division at the Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow. She was the only American to receive such an honor.

And the Wolf Trap Opera is almost as selective as the Tchaikovsky competition; 16 singers were chosen from 700 applicants at auditions here and in Houston, Chicago, New York City and San Francisco. Two local singers made the grade -- Gordon Hawkins of Clinton and Ned Barth of Washington.

Besides "The Marriage of Figaro," which opened last Wednesday, company members will perform in "Postcard From Morocco" by Dominick Argento (opening July 24 in the Barns) and "Tales of Hoffmann," by Offenbach (opening Aug. 14 in the Filene Center).

Casting for one role this summer will not engender the kind of competition that normally characterizes company auditions. Russell says he is still looking for someone to play the speaking role of Stella in "Tales of Hoffmann." The only potential problem is that the opera is in French. Russell has been exploring possibilities for casting the role with various members of the diplomatic corps. Naturally, says Russell, he would prefer the French-speaking equivalent of Lady Marjory Wright, who has performed in a few local productions.

But to say anything more about his search now "would get a lot of noses out of joint," says Russell.

Each season's shows are selected by what Russell calls "the triumvirate" of himself; artistic consultant Frank Rizzo, who also is the Washington Opera's artistic director; and music director Richard Woitach. "We pick operas in the fall that we know we can cast . . . we try to pick a variety of different styles to show the singers to best advantage."

Russell is excited about Argento's promised appearance at the opening of "Postcard From Morocco." Argento's 1971 work was last produced in the fall of 1985 by Beverly Sills' New York City Opera Company and is now considered a staple of American operatic repertoire. Russell is also quite happy about the record-breaking audience of 1,100 at the children's performance of "Little Red Riding Hood" at the Children's Theatre-in-the-Woods, where the Wolf Trap company opened its summer season over the Fourth of July weekend. Smithsonian's Art Journal

According to the Smithsonian regents' spring report, released in full this month, the National Museum of American Art will copublish a biannual scholarly journal called Smithsonian Studies in American Art. Two publishing companies are in the running to publish the journal with the museum. The first issue is scheduled to come out in spring 1987, with a fall issue to follow.

Migs Grove, editor of the new journal, says Smithsonian officials expect the number of issues each year to increase after the third year. Each issue will consist of five or six articles. "Fine arts are the periodical's primary focus," reads the journal's mission statement. However, it will also "encompass all aspects of the nation's visual heritage, including decorative arts and crafts, architecture and landscape design, film and video, commercial and graphic design," says the statement.

In addition, the journal will examine the "cultural factors that have shaped American art." Grove says the articles will not be limited to subjects that relate to Smithsonian holdings. Grove also says such a publication has been under consideration for a long time. Among those on the journal's board are the National Gallery's John Wilmerding. Behind the Silver Screen

For those bewildered by the arcane cinematic references of film critics and historians, a remedy appears on the horizon. The National Archives is sponsoring a film series, "Making Movies," beginning Friday, in the Archives' fifth-floor theater. The two-part series will examine American cinematic progress through the screening of two classics -- "Intolerance" and "Public Enemy" -- and of films about moviemaking like "The Golden Age of Comedy" and "The Making of Amber Waves." "Theater Dark," which screens next month, is a 1984 documentary by local filmmaker John Heyn examining recently closed area moviehouses. Odds and Ends

The National Endowment for the Arts announced that Sali Ann Kriegsman will become the new director of its dance program, replacing Nigel Redden . . . The Kathleen Ewing Gallery tomorrow opens its "Dog Days Dog Show," which features said animals; participating artists each made a $5 contribution to the Washington Animal Rescue League, and a share of the gross receipts goes to the league, as well.