Washington in August feels like being under a hot, wet blanket, you might think twice before going to a show about quilts. But "First Flowerings: Early Virginia Quilts," a show of 20 quilts made before 1840 at the DAR Museum, shows with bold colors, exotic floral designs and intricate needlework that fabrics can be works of art. CLASSICAL MUSIC The Wolf Trap Opera Company's Annual Showcase, featuring members of the company in operatic arias and ensemble numbers today, will be this week's most notable musical attraction -- a rare opportunity to see some of the operatic stars of tomorrow before they are launched on international careers.

Tuesday evening in the Washington Cathedral, the Folger Consort will present a program of music from the "Age of Chivalry," the 12th and 13th centuries.

The violin-piano duo of Kenneth Sarch and Joseph Holt will perform music of Brahms, Tartini, Prokofiev and Ravel, also on Tuesday night at George Mason University. DANCE The Claudia Murphey Dance Company introduces two new works choreographed by Murphey -- "Vertical Plane" and "Steel Ties" -- along with a pair of repertory works, "Social AEffects" and "Men," at the Dance Place Friday through Sunday evenings. FILM "My Life as a Dog," a Swedish coming-of-age comedy by Lasse Hallstrom, remains this summer's sweetest movie. Anton Glanzelius stars as the precocious 12-year-old Ingemar, who is sent to stay with his crazy country relations when his tubercular mother is finally hospitalized. He is forced to leave the only things he loves behind -- his mom, his big brother and his beloved dog. But the wacked-out rural hospitality of his uncle's village -- like something created by Ingmar Bergman and Garrison Keillor -- temporarily distracts him. And Melinda Kinnman, as the local tomboy, boxes her way into his heart. POP MUSIC Billy Bragg, Britain's Last Angry Young Man, brings his provocative broadsides to the 9:30 club Monday and Tuesday.

Some great "Voices" battle it out on Wednesday, with Al Jarreau at the Post Pavilion and Bobby McFerrin at Wolf Trap (where mellow Michael Franks is the headliner).

Thursday it's '60s nostalgia vs. '70s nostalgia: America and Three Dog Night are at Wolf Trap while the Monkees are at the Post Pavilion (with Weird Al Yankovic, also on Friday). THEATER Move coolly into August with "A Stephen Sondheim Evening," an elegant and intelligent amalgam of 30 years of the master's many voices, delivered by an accomplished cast in the newly air-conditioned New Playwrights' Theatre. If you'd rather be warmed, you might plug into "The Immigrant," Mark Harelik's affectionately amusing memoir of his 100-year-old grandfather's experiences as a Jewish newcomer to Texas. It's at Arena's Kreeger Theater.