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Recitative, is the name given to sung text that is used as a dramatic device to propel the plot of an opera. It is less emotional and more practical than an aria and more conversational in style. It is usually accompanied by a thinner texture, sometimes with just a couple of instruments, and often leads directly into an aria that explores the emotions of the character as a result of the action that happened in the recitative.
Have a listen to this monologue from Robert Mc Allister. This is a translation of a recitative from Mozart’s the Marriage of Figaro in English.
Now listen to it again as it would appear in the opera. Can you hear the moment where the recitative transitions to the aria?