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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.

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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.

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