Definition of recitative in English:



  • Musical declamation of the kind usual in the narrative and dialogue parts of opera and oratorio, sung in the rhythm of ordinary speech with many words on the same note.

    ‘singing in recitative’
    • ‘The staging for Radames's return - with massed wind and brass, plus ballet - was terrific, despite some backstage noise for Aida's preceding recitative.’
    • ‘For a start, it is set in Classical Roman times, in the reign of the Emperor Titus, and strikes me as being much heavier on recitative than Mozart's more famous works.’
    • ‘By the early eighteenth century, operatic juxtapositions (aria versus recitative, for instance) came to be seen as part of a standard order of representation, weakening the original shock-effect of the genre.’
    • ‘I ended up writing an operetta - a collection of songs separated by recitatives.’
    • ‘Arias, recitatives and choruses all profit from his lavish and quite astounding musico-theatrical imagination.’
    • ‘Hawkins doesn't give us a heap of recitative, but actually finds a coherent musical structure that fits the poems.’
    • ‘The arias now give the impression of being an overflow from the recitative's disciplined passion - as they were in the recitative of early Baroque, Monteverdian opera.’
    • ‘These four scenes for Savage are quite significant, involving not just recitative but a sequence of strong da capo arias.’
    • ‘The piece is an artful reworking both of Hungarian folk music and Baroque recitative.’
    • ‘After a dramatic recitative which Genaux sings with some interesting vocal color, the aria is as light and as refreshing as a cool breeze.’
    • ‘Brindley Sherratt, the bass soloist to whom much of the important recitative is consigned, conveyed the drama excellently.’
    • ‘Both composers have the gift of following the twists and turns of often complex poetry without resorting to faux recitative or to dropping a melodic thread.’
    • ‘The scope of the movement is strictly calibrated so that the more complex, vigorous material executed only by the dancers springs as naturally from the basic choreography as aria does from recitative.’
    • ‘This musical tradition was developed in the seventeenth century with the emergence of opera, oratorio, and cantata and their attendant forms of aria, recitative, and chorale.’
    • ‘I detest recitative in its baroque continuo form.’
    • ‘The intricate polyphonic choruses and semi-choruses with solo recitative were always lucidly controlled.’
    • ‘Most of the work is punctuated with recitatives and arias with not much choral work but the work did not bore me at all.’
    • ‘There the very first note of the opening recitative is a tone lower - G - with the first and the fourth notes of the phrase therefore the same.’
    • ‘But his peculiar language consisted of a sort of recitative, half-speaking the songs rather than singing them.’
    • ‘Much of it is recitative, a music of raw emotion, the cry of the heart without a melody.’
    incantation, intonation, recitation, singing, song, mantra
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Mid 17th century: from Italian recitativo, from Latin recitare ‘to read out’ (see recite).