noun \ˌre-sə-tə-ˈtēv, ˌres-tə-\

music : a passage in vocal music (such as an opera) in which the words are sung in a way that resembles speech

Full Definition of RECITATIVE

:  a rhythmically free vocal style that imitates the natural inflections of speech and that is used for dialogue and narrative in operas and oratorios; also :  a passage to be delivered in this style
:  recitation 2
recitative adjective

Examples of RECITATIVE

  1. the second recitative of Act II
  2. The opera made use of recitative.


Italian recitativo, from recitare to recite, from Latin
First Known Use: 1656

Other Music Terms

cacophony, chorister, concerto, counterpoint, madrigal, obbligato, presto, presto, refrain, riff, segue


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Style of accompanied solo singing that imitates the rhythms and tones of speech. Representing an attempt at an ideally expressive musical text setting, which the ancient Greeks were thought to have mastered, it came into existence in tandem with opera c. 1600, the first operas being largely written in recitative. Recitative style gradually began to separate from lyrical aria style. Regular alternation of recitative with aria became the rule for both opera and cantata, and recitative became essential to the dramatic oratorio as well. It remains basic to operatic composition; the presence of recitative (as opposed to spoken dialogue) most clearly distinguishes opera from the musical and related genres.


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