Rossini's cantatas are little known and rarely performed, so the chance to hear three of them in one evening should have been irresistible. Wednesday's meagre audience at the Hippodrome, however, suggested otherwise.
The concert, which saw the excellent Orchestra of Welsh National Opera arranged on an acoustically enhanced stage with violins stylishly placed on either side of conductor Carlo Rizzi, certainly had all the right credentials.
Rizzi's account of the Semiramide overture was unforced yet full of detail, the horns mellow and precise, woodwind nicely shaped, and the bubbly crescendo finish tastefully paced.
In the first cantata, Il piano delle Muse in Morte di Lord Byron, composed when Rossini was staying in London at the time of Byron's death, instrumental obbligatos were just as finely observed.
They provided a delectable accompaniment to tenor Barry Banks, whose tonal purity and glorious clarity of delivery invested every note and elegantly turned phrase of this seven-minute bel canto solo with more poignant beauty than its musical merits probably deserved.
Written as a student exercise Il pianto d'Armonia sulla morte di Orfeo, in which Banks - again in superb voice - was joined by the men's chorus, was less convincing, its structure weakened by an incongruous sounding Sinfonia, although the cello and horn solos in Ma tu che desti provided some moments of pure joy.
So too did the 50-minute Le nozze di Teti, e di Peleo, although it seemed little more than a disparate collection of short movements, despite the presence of five soloists and full chorus.
In particular Robin Tritschler and the wonderfully dramatic mezzo Imelda Drumm were given several opportunities for vocal display, which they fell upon with considerable alacrity and total commitment.