The Spoleto Festival USA, although a mixture of musical styles, is an excellent promoter of opera. The event takes center stage in historic Charleston, South Carolina, for 17 days (through June 9) and is the U.S. counterpart to the European fete in Spoleto, Italy, hence the name. Witness performances of The Flying Dutchman, Così fan tutte, The South African Carmen, and other fine examples of annunciating theater. You better believe this festival isn't over until the - well, you know what we're saying.

A perfect place to celebrate Independ-ence Day this year is Boston's Fourth of July. The 85-member Boston Pops orchestra lights up the Hatch Shell and performs two hours' worth of classical tunes set to a flurry of fireworks. The largest free classical concert in the country blocks off streets and is joined by more than 1,000 sea craft sailing along the Charles River. As a bonus to make sure all 400,000 in attendance are close to the action and have a clear view, four Sony Jumbotrons will bring the music to the people.

At the Newport Music Festival, more than 50 artists from 17 countries put on 64 performances, filling the great rooms of turn-of-the-century mansions in Newport, Rhode Island, July 12-28. Classical music sets the scene for a Gatsby- esque good time, complete with splendid ballrooms, three-story marble halls, and cocktails galore. The focus of this year's gala, "Chopin and His Music," will be done justice through solo artists, quartets, sonatas, vocalists, trios, and other recitals. This nostalgic marvel swells the community of 30,000 to more than 100,000 for the lavish occasion. If you've never hobnobbed in a Newport mansion, this is the time.

You say you missed this year's popular South by Southwest extravaganza that played out in March in Austin and included performances by some 800 bands? Don't fret. North by Northeast, its sister festival, plays the clubs of Toronto June 6-8. Though on a smaller scale than SXSW, it's still a good place to hear roughly 400 up-and-coming acts and rub elbows with industry types.