Skip to main content
Select Source:

recitative

recitative (rĕs´Ĭtətēv´), musical declamation for solo voice, used in opera and oratorio for dialogue and for narration. Its development at the close of the 16th cent. made possible the rise of opera. The Florentine composers Peri, Caccini, and Galilei sought a style in which the words could be clearly understood, the rhythms of natural speech would be followed, and the music would convey the feeling of a whole passage. Toward the middle of the 17th cent. arose recitativo secco, which employed a quick succession of notes having little melodic character and serving only to advance the action, punctuated by occasional chords in a figured bass accompaniment. Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart employs much recitative of this sort. It was used also in cantata and oratorio. In the 18th cent. greater importance was assumed by the recitativo accompagnato or stromentato, accompanied by the string section or the full orchestra, in which the music was more strictly measured. This type of recitative was used at the points of greatest dramatic interest and to introduce important arias. Robert Cambert and Lully developed a style of recitative suited to the French language; Purcell and Mozart attacked similar problems in English and German. Wagner, opposed to the Italian type of recitative, developed a continuous declamation in which the melody was completely molded to the text, upon which the accompaniment served as a sort of commentary. Schoenberg, about 1900, devised a species of half-pitched declamation called Sprechgesang, since used by other composers.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"recitative." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"recitative." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/recitative

"recitative." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/recitative

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

recitative

recitative (It. recitativo). Form of declamatory speech-like singing used especially in opera or oratorio. Serves for dialogue or narrative (as a means of advancing the plot), whereas the subsequent aria is often static or reflective. In 17th- and 18th-cent. opera, especially opera seria, the distinction between recit. and aria was clear, but with Mozart's much more expressive and inventive use of recitative (as in Don Giovanni), the convention began to break up. Types of recit. are: recitativo accompagnato or stromentato (It., acc. or instr. recit.), introduced c.1663, in which the v. is acc. by instr.; recitativo secco (It., dry recit.), in which the notes and metre of the singing followed the verbal accents, accompanied only by occasional hpd. chords, perhaps with a vc. or other instr. taking the bass line.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"recitative." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"recitative." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/recitative

"recitative." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/recitative

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

recitative

rec·i·ta·tive / ˌres(ə)təˈtēv/ • n. 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.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"recitative." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"recitative." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/recitative

"recitative." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/recitative

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.