Word of the Day – Thursday, September 14th



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ARIA (AHR-ee-uh)

A lengthy solo sung with instrumental accompaniment
Common clues: Diva's delivery; Soprano's showstopper; Opera solo; "Tosca" highlight; Met highlight; La Scala solo; Puccini piece; Handel bars?; What the fat lady sings?
Crossword puzzle frequency: 16 times a year
Frequency in English language: 22641 / 86800
Diana Damrau as Queen of the Night

My voice had a long, nonstop career. It deserves to be put to bed with quiet and dignity, not yanked out every once in a while to see if it can still do what it used to do. It can't. ~ Beverly Sills

An aria (Italian for air; plural: arie or arias in common usage) in music was originally any expressive melody, usually, but not always, performed by a singer. It is now used almost exclusively to describe a self contained piece for one voice usually with orchestral accompaniment. Perhaps the most common context for arias is opera; there are also many arias that form movements of oratorios and cantatas. Composers also wrote "concert arias", not part of any larger work, such as "Ah Perfido" by Beethoven and a number of concert arias by Mozart.

The Sydney Opera House

In the 17th century, the aria was written in ternary form (ABA); these arias were known as da capo arias. The aria later "invaded" the opera repertoire with its many sub-species (Aria cantabile, Aria agitata, Aria di bravura, and so on). By the mid-19th century, many operas became a sequence of arias, reducing the space left for recitative, while other operas (for instance those by Wagner) were entirely through-composed, with no section being readily identifiable as a self-contained aria.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Aria".