Welsh National Opera’s recent visit to the New Theatre supplied a stark study in contrasts in work from two of Italy’s greatest composers for the stage.

While Verdi’s La Traviata brought an evening of near-unrelieved gloom, certainly on the visual front, Rossini’s heart-warming La Cenerentola burst on to the stage in a startling feast of colour.

Musically, however, each delivered precisely what one hoped for, with strong performances in the lead roles, and WNO’s chorus and orchestra on characteristically splendid form.

La Traviata, in its tale of a young courtesan doomed to death, is never going to be cheery theatre. The tuberculosis affecting Violetta (Linda Richardson) is evident from the outset in the coughing fit that interrupts the roisterous delights of Act I’s society ball.

The candlelit capers in a dark-walled apartment are followed by a scene scarcely less Stygian in Violetta’s country retreat as presented by designer Tanya McCallin. (Contrast this with the airy delights of the house seen, for instance, in Zefferelli’s 1983 film version of the opera.)

Here all should be sweetness and light – at least at the outset – with her new love Alfredo (Kang Wang). Then his father Giorgio (Roland Wood) arrives to urge the sacrifice of her happiness for the sake of his family’s good name, to which outrageous request she tragically accedes.

Dad is the bad-hat, too, in La Cenerentola, Rossini’s take on Cinderella, with the pater of heroine Angelina (Tara Erraught) behaving in the way traditionally expected of the wicked stepmother (here absent) over her enforced skivvying. But the old boy (Fabio Capitanucci) is also a richly comic character, in his booziness and delusions of grandeur.

Status is to be achieved, he hopes, by foisting one of his two ghastly daughters, Tisbe (Heather Lowe) and Clorinda (Aoife Miskelly) on to the regal Don Ramiro (Matteo Macchioni). This desirable moneybags bore a distracting similarity to the late Ken Dodd, which added to the general merriment.