The latest of three operas composed by Bowie resident Gerald Muller recently was previewed at the Music Recital Hall at Montgomery College, Rockville Campus.

The 40-minute, 17-instrument work, entitled "Mary Surratt," is set in the parlor of Surratt's boarding house at 5th & H streets in Washington on April 13, 1865, the day of Abraham Lincoln's death.

The 14 roles are sung by Montgomery College students majoring in voice, music or theater. The music is characterized by changing vocal lines, ghostly effects and strong symbolism. Surratt's final aria is sung expressively by Sheila Wexsler. Eric Krasner brings fine vocal dramatization to the baritone role of John Wilkes Booth.

Muller, who also wrote the libretto, thoroughly researched the subject of Surratt's participation in the Lincoln assassination conspiracy. He even has interviewed a living relative of Surratt's charlady. Officials of the Surratt Society, a group that may become the subject of a television program "In Search of . . ." later this year, apparently thought enough of the opera to suggest that excerpts from it be included in the proposed TV show.

The opera will premiere April 2 at the college's Campus Center Little Theatre and continue through April 4. It will share the bill with Ruggiero Leoncavallo's opera "I Pagliacci" (in English) and the double-bill also will run April 9-12. Call 279-5301 for ticket and reservation information