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aria(är`ēə), elaborate and often lengthy solo song with instrumental accompaniment. In the 16th cent. it was a melody improvised over a strophic bass line, and a distinction was made between instrumental, vocal, and dance arias. the use of the term to indicate instrumental music was continued by such composers as Froberger, Pachelbel, and J. S. Bach. The first use of the term to indicate solo song was by Giulio Caccini in 1602. Later in the 17th cent. Italian operaopera,
drama set to music. Characteristics
The libretto may be serious or comic, although neither form necessarily excludes elements of the other. Opera differs from operetta in its musical complexity and usually in its subject matter.
..... Click the link for more information. composers developed the aria da capo, a throughcomposed (nonstrophic) three-part structure in which the beginning section is repeated after a contrasting middle section. Though this formal scheme was first used by Monteverdi, he did not designate it aria da capo. This type achieved artistic perfection in the operas of Alessandro ScarlattiScarlatti, Alessandro
, 1660–1725, Italian composer. He may have studied with Carissimi in Rome, where his first opera was produced in 1679. In 1684 he went to Naples as master of the royal chapel and there composed operas for the royal palace and chamber music for the
..... Click the link for more information. and Handel and in the works of J. S. Bach. In the 18th cent. the three main sections were divided into subsections, and there were classifications of many various types of arias. The extreme convention of using as many types as possible, but never the same type in succession, developed in the Neapolitan opera, and the subsequent formal rigidity led to a decline of the aria da capo. Later in the 18th cent. prominent virtuoso singers, seeking a means for technical display, caused the development of a type consisting in reality of two separate arias, the first usually dramatic and the second lyrical. Most of the arias of Mozart are of this kind. But in French operas, especially those of Christoph W. von GluckGluck, Christoph Willibald von
, 1714–87, German-born operatic composer. Gluck revolutionized opera by establishing lyrical tragedy as a unified vital art form. He studied music at Prague and later in Italy with G. B. Sammartini.
..... Click the link for more information. , there was a development leading to greater similarity of recitative and aria, which eventually culminated in the complete abandonment of arias in the late operas of Richard WagnerWagner, Richard
, 1813–83, German composer, b. Leipzig. Life and Work
Wagner was reared in a theatrical family, had a classical education, and began composing at 17.
..... Click the link for more information. , who substituted a highly melodic recitativerecitative
, 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.
..... Click the link for more information. called Sprechgesang [Ger.,=speech-song]. The form continued to be preferred by Italian opera composers, however, and the romantic aria reached its height in the works of Giuseppe VerdiVerdi, Giuseppe
, 1813–1901, foremost Italian composer of opera, b. Le Roncole. Verdi, the son of an innkeeper, showed a precocious talent for the organ but was refused entrance to the Milan Conservatory as having been inadequately trained.
..... Click the link for more information. .
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an elaborate accompanied song for solo voice from a cantata, opera, or oratorio
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005