Dancer Rudolf Nureyev celebrated his 50th birthday on stage in New York recently, in a gala performance by his Paris Opera Ballet, with a galaxy of international stars, including legendary partner Margot Fonteyn, joining him on stage. Still dancing, Nureyev received an ovation for his Wanderer in Maurice Bejart's "Song of the Wayfarer." In the past four years, Nureyev's artistic direction has revitalized the Paris Opera Ballet.

* LOST TO THE ARTS: Howard Mitchell, cellist, who was music director of the National Symphhony for 20 years, of heart failure in Florida, at age 77. And in New York, William Carter, choreographer and former leading dancer with the American Ballet Theater, died of AIDS at 56. In 1986, he was named acting artistic director of the Rome Opera Ballet. Alfred Reginald Allen, for many years an assistant general manager at the Metropolitan Opera, died at 83 in Washington, of natural causes. He was also an executive director of operations for Lincoln Center, and an expert on Gilbert and Sullivan.* ALEXANDER GODUNOV, Russian ballet star who defected from the Soviet Union in 1979, never imagined he would end up nine years later acting in the movies. But the tall blond former dancer has had considerable success playing in the films "Witness" and "The Money Pit," and is now portraying a heavy in "Die Hard" with Bruce Willis.

* THE MINNESOTA OPERA has been awarded $300,000, the largest single grant in its 25-year history, from the 3M Foundation and 3M Corporate Contributions Committee. Funds will go toward a seven-week tour of Rossini's "Cinderella" through the upper Midwest.

* SOPRANO JESSYE NORMAN was awarded an honorary doctorate in June by Harvard University for "her intelligence and grace and the lustrous beauty of her voice (that) lift the human spirit and bring joy throughout the world."

* MICKEY ROONEY, 67, recently visited Boys' Town in Nebraska, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the movie "Boys' Town," in which he starred with Spencer Tracy.