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THE ARTS SCENE

San Francisco Opera resumed stage presentation at the War Memorial Opera House last Tuesday with Verdi's "Otello." The audience sat beneath a hugh nylon net suspended from the ceiling to catch any plaster chunks, there were ominous cracks on numerous walls, boards covered glassless windows in the foyer and stairwells, and backstage technicians had to contend with leaky pipes and damaged equipment. Nonetheless, city engineers have declared the building structurally secure.

Only one opera, Mozart's "Idomeneo" scheduled on Oct. 17, the day of the quake, was cancelled. Operas of Oct. 20, 21 and 22 were presented in semi-concert form at the 3,100 seat Masonic Auditorium, with busing offered from parking lots near the War Memorial.Reports indicate that Davies Hall, home of the San Francisco Symphony, and the San Francisco Ballet building, both near the War Memorial, suffered little damage. Both were constructed since new earthquake-resistant construction was mandated in the city.

-HOLLYWOOD MEMORIES: ON THE BLOCK: The "Superman" costume that George Reeves wore during the 1950s TV show, along with many other Hollywood collectibles, will go on auction next month, when Camden House Auctioneers, Inc. will sell hundreds of original movie posters, costumes, props, scripts and the like, Nov. 4 and 5 at the Ebell Club, 4400 Wilshire Blvd., in Los Angeles. For details: 213-476-1628.

The inventory will include:

- Reeves' costume (with an estimated price of $50,000-$60,000).

- The Marx Brothers' family photo album ($6,000-$8,000).

- A 1944 postcard written by Marilyn Monroe - when she still signed her name as "Norma Jean" ($4,000-$6,000).

- One of the last surviving theater banners for the 1937 release of Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" ($3,000-$5,000).

-WITOLD ROWICKI, founder of the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra and its conductor for nearly 25 years, died recently at 75. He had conducted major orchestras on five continents . . . Carmen Cavallaro, 76, purveyor of suave supper club piano, died in Columbus, Ohio of cancer.

-ALVIN AILEY has quietly resigned his $80,000 a year professorship at City University of New York, following complaints that he paid others to teach his classes. The university forbids use of surrogate teachers.

-RUDOLF NUREYEV, star of a U.S. revival of "The King and I," will have temporary replacements at the Paris Opera Ballet, where he is refusing to return as director until the company accepts his conditions for a new contract. The Opera has appointed two of its dance masters to "temporarily carry out the functions of the dance director."

Nureyev threatens to become another casualty of French Opera chairman Pierre Berge, as the two quarrel over how much time Nureyev will spend in Paris. French officials want him for six months a year, but Nureyev wants to spend as little as four months, saying otherwise he has to pay too much income tax. His last three-year contract ran out at the end of August, and negotiations are for a five-year deal.