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Owen Jander

revised by Tim Carter

In music, the relation between verbal stress and melodic accent in the setting and delivery of a text. Clear and appropriate text setting, measured by quantity or quality, was extolled by humanist thinkers in the Renaissance on the basis of classical precedent, and it was central to the emergence of recitative and the ‘new music’ in Florence during the late 16th century. Throughout the Baroque period, the notion of the musician as orator, persuading and moving an audience, depended on proper declamation. The subject was often discussed by theorists, particularly as clear declamation became threatened by the more musical demands of the aria. J.G. Walther (WaltherML) applied to music the rationalistic concept of declamation, which originally dealt with speech, and focussed his attention on recitative. J.J. Rousseau (Dictionnaire, 1768) dealt with declamation as the relationship between musical and linguistic accent, which had been much discussed in French singing treatises, such as Bénigne de Bacilly’s ...


Licenza (i)  

William C. Holmes

(It.: ‘licence’)

(1) In the 17th and 18th centuries a passage or cadenza inserted into a piece by a performer.

(2) In the same period, an epilogue inserted into a stage work (opera or play) in honour of a patron’s birthday or wedding, or for some other festive occasion. This usually consisted of recitatives and arias but choruses were sometimes included. The ...



Julian Budden

revised by Ellen T. Harris

(It. travesti: ‘disguised’)

An operatic role played by a member of the opposite sex. The term is most commonly applied to men who sing female roles; for women playing male roles, Breeches part is more usual. Such parts, often depicting elderly, amorous women and having an inherently comic or derisive element, are frequent in early Venetian opera: for example, the Nurse (alto or high tenor) in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea (1642) or Alcesta in Cavalli’s Erismena (alto in 1656, tenor in 1670). The later period of Zeno and Metastasio banished such parts as distasteful, but the custom persisted in early Neapolitan comic operas. French opera offers an example in the title role of Rameau’s Platée (1745), an ugly marsh-nymph, for Haute-contre . A rare instance in 19th-century Italian opera is Mamm’Agata (baritone) in Donizetti’s Le convenienze teatrali (1827), the hectoring mother of a seconda donna. In Britten’s ...



Martin Kirnbauer


A designation for an instrument, known only from a stage direction in Peri’s Euridice (Florence, 1600): ‘Tirsi Viene in scena sonando la presente Zinfonia con un Triflauto, e canta la seguente stanza’. The score at this point comprises a ritornello on three staves, all with soprano clefs. The top two parts (e′–e′′) are written predominantly in parallel thirds, while the lowest is a drone alternating between only four notes.

The direction may simply refer to a stage-prop, perhaps an instrument comparable to the flauto harmonico or armonia di flauto. The latter was a kind of recorder with five pipes (four of which served only as a drone) made by Manfredo Settala about 1650; the only surviving instrument is in the Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale, Bologna. The music could have been played on recorders, as prescribed by Francesca Caccini for a very similar ritornello in her opera La liberazione di Ruggiero...