Recitatives: Practical Methods for Teaching Them
Most operas have some form of recitative. The word comes from the Italian term “recitativo” and usually refers to those moments of dialogue in which the musical form and impetus is supplanted by the dramatic needs. It is a piece of sung text, in which the phrasing comes more from the word inflection and meaning than from a musical impulse. “Recitation” thus takes precedence over melody in either aria or arioso (a melodic section lacking formal structure). This does not in any way excuse bad enunciation of thoughts in arias and ensembles. It simply implies that more attention must be paid to the words in recitatives than to musical line. Even the later operas of Verdi, Wagner, and Puccini contain measures or phrases that should be considered recitative in nature.