The Green Mountain Opera Festival opened its proceedings with a public concert at the Waitsfield Joslyn Round Barn June 6. It was just one of several concerts scheduled to precede the two performances of this years opera, Verdis La Traviata. This concert served to introduce the three principal singers in the La Traviata production: soprano Aline Kutan, tenor Eric Fennell and baritone Theodore Baerg. An added fourth singer was mezzo Monique Pelletier, a member of the Emerging Artists group who joined the principles in the singing of the quartet from Rigoletto. Judging from the literature chosen, the three principles have been well selected by Artistic Director Taras Kulish for their leading roles in Traviata. Kutan, though diminutive in stature, is vocally commanding. All of the selections that she chose, including two duets from Traviata, showed her command of Italianate singing. I found Fennell also had the vocal equipment necessary to sing the part of Alfredo, as well as Baerg, whose rendition of some favorite baritone arias was always on the mark. Pelletier fit into this company quite easily when they sang the quartet. It was an auspicious first hearing of the cast members. The Essex Childrens Choir The Essex Childrens Choir, under the direction of Constance Price, welcomed local tenor Wayne Hobbs home after his recent successful debut at Milans La Scala Opera House, the mecca for most opera singers. The afternoon featured Hobbs and surrounded his splendid voice it has improved and Hobbs used it to great effect in arias from Handel, Mozart and Verdi, as well as Viennese operetta and Americas Broadway. I was particularly impressed by his singing of Don Ottavios Il mio tesoro; it contained all of the expected lyrical line, but it surprised in its vehemence of the character's swearing vengeance on Don Giovanni, something which promotes Don Ottavio from a dramatic zero to a mover and shaker. His ease on stage and amongst the audience in the Cathedral Church of St. Paul had an aura of authenticity Hobbs genuinely liked singing La Donna e mobile as he wandered amongst the members of the audience. It was a pleasure to hear him sing. The Childrens Choir sang a variety of music from opera, starting with a quartet that sang a piece by Henry Purcell, and ranging through music by Humperdinck, Mozart, Bizet, and several other composers. While the purity of sound that the children produce is admirable, it is lacking in projection, and therefore has a lesser impact than it might have. I also felt that some of the older girls for example, the original four who sang the work by Purcell were producing their sound as a type of falsetto, rather than singing in a young womans voice. It was a Sunday afternoon well spent, all in all. Briefly Noted: the Barre Opera House will be the site of Green Mountain Opera Festivals production of Verdi's La Traviata June 20 (an evening performance) and June 22 (a matinee performance). For ticket information, go online to www.greenmountainoperafestival.org. I understand that ticket sales are brisk. Burlington resident Dan Wolfe observes and critiques the local arts scene for the Times Sentinel. His column appears weekly.