The Prince George's Opera, making its downtown debut tomorrow night at Lisner Auditorium, will be putting its best foot forward with a fresh, bright production of "La Traviata" -- one of the most popular operas in the repertoire, and rightly so. In yesterday's performance at Prince George's Community College, the principals sang with an emotive power and clarity of diction that was the most eloquent possible argument for the use of Ruth and Thomas Martin's English translation, the chorus sang and acted with vivid personality, and the orchestra, sensitively conducted by Edward Roberts, did full justice to Verdi's eloquent music.

All three of the leading roles were well acted and sung, but the star of the production was clearly soprano Fleta Hylton, a heartbreaking Violetta with a particularly brilliant upper register. Lewis Freeman, as the elder Germont, has a commanding stage presence and a rich baritone voice. His long scene with Hylton in Act 2 was particularly impressive. Howard Ralph Carr conveyed Alfredo's impetuosity well and made a strong vocal impression, particularly in his drinking song and the great Act 1 duet with Hylton. The sets and costumes reach a level of elegance seldom seen in this company's productions, and the stage direction by Muriel Von Villas is as intelligent and well focused as usual.