The aria - a musical form that’s a kind of song, but more elaborate and vocally demanding than the pieces we usually call songs. The development of opera in Italy in the 1600's is what brought the aria to glory.
In the earliest operas, the dominant musical style was a kind of dramatic declamation, more like musical reciting than what we now think of as operatic singing. As opera evolved, though, a division of labor developed: reciting style, or recitative, became “drier” and faster and was used mostly to give the facts and to advance the action, while the aria became more melodious and musically interesting, and was used as the vehicle for emotional response, for the expression of passion. By the mid-1600's, the aria was already by far the most important element of opera, and beautiful arias were what audiences came to hear. More on the aria tomorrow.
I’m Miles Hoffman, and this has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.