Opera with subtitles will be a significant part of the Washington music scene this fall -- not only on television, but in the Kennedy Center Opera House, where two productions will be presented with visual translations. Opera will also make a splash in the movie houses, with the arrival of Bizet's "Carmen" starring Placido Domingo and the film of Peter Shaffer's "Amadeus." A busy opera season on television opens this month with four operas on public TV -- five if we count Carlisle Floyd's "Willie Stark," which had a rerun last week.

The orchestral scene will be less spectacular until January, when Mstislav Rostropovich ends his sabbatical year and returns to the National Symphony with the world premiere of "RiverRun," a composition by Stephen Albert based on James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake." Rostropovich will also bring back Ezra Laderman's Fifth Symphony, "Isaiah," which had its premiere here two years ago, and will conduct some scenes from Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov" in a concert version -- but that brings us back to opera.

For the remainder of 1984, the NSO will be doing business as usual with one major innovation: The first performance of each program will be given on Thursday evenings, not Tuesday, which has been the orchestra's opening night for most of the past half-century. A large part of the conducting chores will be handled by principal guest conductor Rafael Fru hbeck de Burgos, with guest appearances by Michael Tilson Thomas, Charles Dutoit, Leonard Slatkin and Gu nther Herbig. Fru hbeck's performance of the Verdi Requiem, with the Choral Arts Society and soloists Margaret Price, Florence Quivar, Carlo Bergonzi and Justino Diaz, may be the highlight of the NSO's fall season.

Other NSO soloists will include violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianists Emanuel Ax (opening the season this week) and Daniel Barenboim. Two appearances of Barenboim with the NSO, performing Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto and the First Concerto of Brahms, will be a happy byproduct of his chief assignment in Washington this fall: conducting Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro" for the Washington Opera. He will also return in the spring with the Orchestre de Paris, which is coproducing three Mozart operas with the Washington Opera.

Besides Barenboim's orchestra, a dozen others will visit the Kennedy Center this season, including the Gewandhaus of Leipzig, Kurt Masur conducting; the Los Angeles Philharmonic with Michael Tilson Thomas; the Royal Philharmonic with Yehudi Menuhin; the St. Louis Symphony with Leonard Slatkin; the London Philharmonic with Klaus Tennstedt; the Prague Symphony with Jiri Belohlavek; the Minnesota Orchestra with Neville Marriner; the Israel Philharmonic with Zubin Mehta; the Cleveland Orchestra with Christoph von Dohnanyi; the Boston Symphony with Seiji Ozawa; the Berlin Radio Symphony with Riccardo Chailly; and the Philadelphia Orchestra in its regular season of six concerts.

The opera season will include repeats of three of the company's most successful past productions. In the Opera House, "La Bohe me" will open the season on Oct. 27. Stravinsky's "The Rake's Progress" and Menotti's double bill "The Medium" and "The Telephone" will return to the Terrace Theater. New productions, besides "The Marriage of Figaro," will include "The Merry Widow," Bellini's "La Sonnambula" and Rossini's "L'Italiana in Algeri."

As always, chamber music will be the most abundant and distinctive element in Washington's musical life. Besides programs that are free or cost only a nominal fee at the Library of Congress, the National Academy of Sciences, the Phillips Collection, the National Gallery and various churches, the season will include distinguished programs in the Terrace Theater, at the National Institutes of Health and at the University of Maryland. Chamber music at the Corcoran Gallery will include appearances by the Tokyo and Cleveland String Quartets, as well as such Washington groups as the Hesperus baroque ensemble and the Contemporary Music Forum.

At the Smithsonian, music will be presented in the usual variety of flavors. The Emerson String Quartet will return to the Renwick Gallery, the Twentieth Century Consort to the Hirshhorn Gallery and the Smithsonian Chamber Ensemble and Smithson String Quartet, playing on period instruments, to the Hall of Musical Instruments. The Folger Consort will present a season of medieval and Renaissance music at the Folger Shakespeare Library. The Wolf Trap Barns will divide the season between pop and chamber music.

As usual, the Juilliard String Quartet will perform during October at the Library of Congress. Not at all as usual, on Oct. 20, the University Community Concerts Series at the University of Maryland will offer a program in which the Guarneri and Cleveland Quartets collaborate in the Mendelssohn Octet. Pianist Eugene Istomin will perform on the same program, which the sponsors are calling (not without some grounds) the chamber music event of the year.

Other pianists who will play in Washington during the season include Maurizio Pollini, Andre' Watts, Mischa Dichter, Alfred Brendel, Andre'-Michel Schub, Alicia de Larrocha, Rudolf and Peter Serkin, Ursula Oppens, Walter Klien, Jorge Bolet and Ivo Pogorelich (making his Washington debut), all at the Kennedy Center. Paul Badura-Skoda, who gave a brilliant Mozart recital last year in the Terrace Theater, will return this season to give a special program for people of the inner city at a church in Anacostia. A particularly notable piano program will be a performance in the Terrace Theater by Mieczyslaw Horszowski, who is still active at age 92.

Singers who will give recitals here this season include Marilyn Horne, Kiri Te Kanawa, Jessye Norman, Leona Mitchell, Johanna Meier, Edith Mathis, Jules Bastin, Claudine Carlson and Lucy Shelton.

Contemporary music will be featured in a major event and a distinguished series at the Kennedy Center. The event will be the annual Kennedy Center/Friedheim Awards, given in alternating years for chamber and orchestral music. This year's orchestral finalists, in a free concert on Oct. 14, will be: Symphony No. 2, by Edward Applebaum; "The Glass Bead Game," by Claude Baker; "Prismatic Visions," by Donald Erb; Concerto for Timpani and Orchestra, by William Kraft; and "Psalms for David," by Marilyn Shrude.

In its "American Composers" series this year, the Kennedy Center will honor and present the music of Charles Wuorinen, Frederic Rszewski, Pauline Oliveros, the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Odetta. Besides groups specializing in modern music (such as the Twentieth Century Consort and the Contemporary Music Forum), a number of Washington ensembles, including the Theater Chamber Players (in residence at the Terrace Theater) and the New World Players (at the National Academy of Sciences) regularly feature contemporary music in their programs.

Choral activity will proceed at its usual feverish pitch, spearheaded this season by the Choral Arts Society, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. A highlight of its fall programming will be Mozart's Requiem on Nov. 18. The Paul Hill Chorale and the Paul Hill Washington Singers will perform a mostly Brahms program, highlighted by the "Liebeslieder" Waltzes on Oct. 14.

Washington again will have two Handel festivals, one at the Kennedy Center, with events scattered through the season, and one at the University of Maryland Nov. 9-11. The festival will include two performances of "Messiah" at Washington Cathedral with Antal Dorati conducting -- his first appearance in Washington in several years -- as well as two orchestral concerts on the College Park campus. September

The National Symphony Orchestra season opens Thursday with Rafael Fru hbeck de Burgos conducting Beethoven's "Egmont" Overture and the Brahms Second Symphony. Emanuel Ax will be the soloist in Beethoven's Second Piano Concerto. Programs the next week under Fru hbeck include Copland's "Appalachian Spring" the Suite from Koda'ly's "Ha'ry Ja'nos," and the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with Nathan Milstein as soloist.

The Sunday afternoon concerts at the Phillips Collection return this month to the gallery itself after being located for a year around the corner at the John Wesley Powell Auditorium while the Phillips was renovated.

On the 29th the Theater Chamber Players begin their season at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater with a most unusual program: Scho nberg's "Ein Stelldichein," Schmidt's Quintet for piano, left hand, and strings (with Leon Fleisher at the keyboard) and Hindemith's "Herodiade." On the same evening Isaac Stern opens with the Washington Performing Arts Society's Kennedy Center Concert Hall season. October

On Oct. 4, the Juilliard Quartet starts the Library of Congress chamber music series with clarinetist Stanley Drucker and pianist Jens Nygaard (on the program: Beethoven's Clarinet Trio and Bartok's "Contrasts"). That same evening brings the Verdi Requiem with the National Symphony under Fru hbeck.

And on Oct. 11 Michael Tilson Thomas starts a two-week stint with the orchestra. Shlomo Mintz will perform the Beethoven Violin Concerto in the first week's programs (along with Dahl's "Hymn" and the Brahms-Scho nberg Piano Quartet transcription). The conductor will conclude the second set of programs with Strauss' "Ein Heldenleben." (He'll also direct Carl Ruggles' rarely played "Men and Mountains"). Oct. 11, in addition, is opening night at Wolf Trap's Barns of Opera SW's version of three Ned Rorem one-acters: "Bertha," "Fables" and "The Three Sisters Who Are Not Sisters."

That same night also brings the 92-year-old Mieczyslaw Horszowski to the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater in a Bach-Mozart-Debussy-Chopin program. Other Terrace Theater events in October include the Guarneri Quartet, the Dorian Wind Quintet, the Northern Sinfonia of England (under Barry Tuckwell) and a concert of music by the composer Charles Wuorinen.

The five final candidates for the Friedheim competition will be played by the orchestra of the Curtis Institute at the Kennedy Center on Oct. 14, after which the judges will announce the winners. In the same hall that evening comes the Paul Hill Chorale's mostly Brahms concert.

At the same place on Oct. 24, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center opens its season here; the program includes a Double Quartet for Strings commissioned from Ellen Zwilich, winner of the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for music.

The Twentieth Century Consort's season opens at the Hirshhorn on Oct. 20, in a concert billed "An Election Special," with works of Joan Tower, David Stock and Charles Ives. That is the same day as the joint concert at the University of Maryland by the Guarneri Quartet, the Cleveland Quartet and Eugene Istomin.

On Oct. 25, Leonard Slatkin will begin a week of appearances with the National Symphony, with Itzhak Perlman playing the Goldmark Violin Concerto.

There are two season openings on the 27th: The Washington Opera in "La Bohe me" and the Emerson Quartet's series at the Renwick Gallery (with pianist Menahem Pressler).

James Galway is at the Kennedy Center the next day, and the day after that the Philadelphia Orchestra's series opens at the Kennedy Center, under Neville Marriner. November

Montreal Symphony music director Charles Dutoit begins two weeks with the National Symphony on Nov. 1, conducting Schumann's "Spring" Symphony and the Mahler First. The following week he will do the Prokofiev Fifth and Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto with soloist Daniel Barenboim.

On Nov. 3, the London Philharmonic will perform, under Klaus Tennstedt.

The Opera unveils its new "Merry Widow" on Nov. 5. And on Nov. 9, Marilyn Horne will be singing in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, while the Opera presents for the first time its new "Marriage of Figaro," under Barenboim.

On Nov. 9 and 10, Antal Dorati will direct Handel's "Messiah" at the Washington Cathedral as part of the University of Maryland's Handel Festival. On the 11th there will be two Handel concerts at the College Park campus -- one by the Smithsonian Chamber Players in the afternoon, and a gala of the Royal Fireworks Music in the evening. Also, one Nov. 11 the much-praised young pianist Ivo Pogorelich will make his Washington debut with the touring Orchestre de Lille. The popular King's Singers appear on Nov. 14.

Conductor Gunther Herbig takes over the National Symphony for a week starting Nov. 15, with Daniel Barenboim returning as soloist, this time in the Brahms First Concerto. On Nov. 16, the Washington Bach Consort has a Kennedy Center concert, and guitarist Julian Bream performs there the following night.

On Nov. 19, the Philadelphia Orchestra returns, with Fru hbeck conducting the Tchaikovsky "Pathetique" and Earl Wild playing Rachmaninoff's Paganini Rhapsody. Finally, the incomparable Alicia de Larrocha gives a piano recital on Nov. 24.

Among the month's Terrace Theater concerts: soprano Johanna Meier (Nov. 10); cellist Leonard Rose (Nov. 13); pianist Walter Klien (Nov. 15); the Vermeer String Quartet (Nov. 16), and a program of music by composer Frederic Rzewski on Nov. 14. Also, the Theater Chamber Players will perform there on Nov. 3 and 4.

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center returns to the Kennedy Center Concert Hall on Nov. 21 with a program including Bartok's grand Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion. December

The month begins with Rudolf Serkin's annual Washington recital (Dec. 1). Also on the same evening: the Washington Opera's new version of Bellini's "La Sonnambula" opens in the Terrace Theater. And the Cleveland Quartet returns to the University of Maryland -- this time alone. On the 4th the Opera revives in the Terrace its Menotti double bill, "The Telephone" and "The Medium," which was such a smash at this summer's Edinburgh Festival.

Soprano Leona Mitchell will sing in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall on Dec. 7. On that evening the Smithsonian Chamber Orchestra, with its specialization in old instruments, will present an all-Mozart program. And on Nov. 8 the Twentieth Century Consort will have a gala saluting the group's first decade.

The Boston Symphony, under Seiji Ozawa, makes its first appearance of the season on Dec. 15, with guitar soloist Manuel Barrueco.

And from there on its mostly the annual Christmas concerts, until Alexander Schneider brings the New York String Orchestra to the Kennedy Center on Dec. 26. Schneider is back on New Year's Eve with his annual "A Night in Old Vienna" concert, preceding the midnight dancing in the Center's Grand Foyer.

And on the same night the Washington Opera's new production of Rossini's "L'Italiana in Algeri" makes its debut in the Terrace.