ART

Though it has none of the sophistication of the art of the National Gallery across the way or the Hirshhorn next door, the new aviation art exhibit now at the Air & Space Museum, "Into the Sunlit Splendor: The Art of William S. Phillips," still elicits the wonder and exhilaration of flight. The 40 oil paintings, drawings and sketches tend toward bold colors and overly luminous backdrops, but the planes are the thing. From the sleek lines of an F-4 Phantom jet to the slickly patriotic Thunderbirds shooting straight for the sky to the classic beauty of the feisty Spitfires and lumbering Ford Tri-motors, this is flying. And it's a joy for those weary of cattlecar commercial jumbo jets. CLASSICAL MUSIC

The New York City Opera comes to Wolf Trap this week, with "La Traviata" on Tuesday and Thursday, "Tosca" on Wednesday and Friday and "The Student Prince" on Saturday and Sunday.

Also visiting from New York will be the Mostly Mozart Festival, Wednesday through Saturday at the Kennedy Center. The Emerson String Quartet will be featured with guitarist Sharon Isbin on Thursday evening. On the other three evenings, Gerard Schwarz will conduct the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, with pianist Jorge Bolet and violinist Joshua Bell on Wednesday, pianist Rudolf Firkusny and cellist Matt Haimovitz on Friday, pianist Alexander Toradze and violinist Nadia Salerno-Sonnenberg on Saturday.

The Library of Congress Summer Chamber Festival will present music of Mozart, Stravinsky, Beethoven and Franck, Tuesday evening in the Coolidge Auditorium.

Also worth noting: pianist Alan di Cenzo, tonight at the National Gallery; the Cabrillo Slavonic Chorus, Tuesday night at the Washington Cathedral; the Bank-Fund Chamber Orchestra, playing music of Handel, at 1 p.m. Wednesday, at the IMF Visitors Center. DANCE

American Ballet Theatre continues its run at the Kennedy Center Opera House today and tonight and resuming Tuesday evening; Sir Kenneth MacMillan's new production of "The Sleeping Beauty" ends the engagement with six performances (three casts of principals) starting Thursday night.

Tennessee's Appalachian Ballet makes its area debut at the Smithsonian's Baird Auditorium Friday and Saturday, in programs featuring works by artistic director Cheryl van Metre and guest choreographer Ken Ludden, as well as guest dancers Ruth Mayer and Laura Young.

Baltimore's Harbor City Ballet makes its first area appearances at the Publick Playhouse Friday and Saturday, dancing three ballets by director Phillip Carman, and also presenting the company's prima ballerina Michelle Lucci in Fokine's "Dying Swan."

Washington's oldest, pioneering African dance company, African Heritage Dancers & Drummers, appears Friday through Sunday nights at Dance Place. FILM

Starring Steve Martin and Daryl Hannah, "Roxanne" is the most unabashed, and satisfying, romantic movie in years. Working from Edmund Rostand's "Cyrano de Bergerac," Martin and the director Fred Schepisi have created an intoxicating, swooningly comic love story about the glories of eccentricity, the triumph of peculiarity and one-of-kind-ness. As C.D., the fire-chief hero, Martin moves with a dancer's graceful verve; he's the Baryshnikov of comedy. POP MUSIC

Good bands and good causes are at the heart of the second Crosstown Charity Jam, with dozens of local musicians and bands donating their services and 18 area nightclubs (and the Warner Theatre) turning over their doors to different area charities.

Sisterfire 1987, the women's music festival, is also back in town (so to speak: it's out at the Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro) after a one-year hiatus for it's fifth anniversary on Saturday and Sunday. The two-day, open-air event of women's music, dance, poetry and more, organized by Roadwork, features on three stages locals like Sweet Honey in the Rock, Betty and Human Bridge Theatre and national stars such as singer Holly Near, writer Alice Walker and the Dance Brigade of California. There'll also be crafts, food, camping and child care. THEATER

In times of gathering hysteria, Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" (at Arena Stage) is always going to seem particularly apt. A drama about the Salem witch hunts, it was Miller's response to the McCarthyism of the 1950s. McCarthy has long since been discredited, but the play remains as potent as ever. Staged with incisive force by Zelda Fichandler and vigorously acted by the large Arena cast, this is theater that strikes at the heart, the mind and the conscience and scores a triple bull's-eye.