can·​ta·​ta | \ kən-ˈtä-tə How to pronounce cantata (audio) \

Definition of cantata

: a composition for one or more voices usually comprising solos, duets, recitatives, and choruses and sung to an instrumental accompaniment

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A cantata is a work for voice or voices and instruments of the baroque era. From its beginnings in 17th-century Italy, both secular and religious cantatas were written. The earliest cantatas were generally for solo voice with minimal instrumental accompaniment. Cantatas soon developed a dramatic character and alternating sections of recitative (solo singing that imitates the rhythms and tones of speech) and aria, paralleling the simultaneous development of opera. In Germany, the Lutheran cantata almost always involved a chorus. The approximately 200 cantatas written by Johann Sebastian Bach are the most celebrated. After ca. 1750 the cantata gradually declined.

Examples of cantata in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The closing sequence, which is set in Romania (a detail revealed in the closing credits, not the film itself), revolves around Freddie at 33 and, not coincidentally, a Bach cantata invoking Christ. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 26 May 2022 Pianist Darrell Grant’s cantata features several church choirs, a six-piece all-star jazz ensemble and Portland vocalist and Jazz Society of Oregon Hall of Fame inductee Marilyn Keller. oregonlive, 30 Mar. 2022 The film is perhaps better suited to young audiences, who will appreciate scenes in which Marie-Josèphe draws inspiration from the mermaid’s song to compose a cantata. Peter Debruge, Variety, 22 Apr. 2022 Each ensemble will present a cantata and an a cappella piece plus a double-choir number that will include all of the singers. oregonlive, 10 Jan. 2022 The concert will be directed by Christian McKee and feature holiday favorites, a Scott Joplin rag, a Bach cantata and a Yuletide mazurka from Italy. oregonlive, 15 Dec. 2021 There is also music, debate, current events, quizzes, and that weird fusion of arts — the cantata. Nicholas Quah, Vulture, 12 Sep. 2021 The program began not with an overture, but with Berlioz’ dramatic cantata La mort de Cléopatre. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, 11 May 2021 Vaughan Williams instead wrote for them a cantata for soprano, baritone, chorus and orchestra using texts from the Catholic Mass, poems by Walt Whitman, a political speech, and sections of the Bible. David L. Coddon, San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 May 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cantata.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of cantata

1724, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cantata

Italian, from cantare to sing, from Latin

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The first known use of cantata was in 1724

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Cite this Entry

“Cantata.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for cantata


can·​ta·​ta | \ kən-ˈtä-tə How to pronounce cantata (audio) \

Kids Definition of cantata

: a piece of music that features solos, duets, and choruses with instrumental accompaniment and is sometimes based on a poem, play, or story

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