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date: 18 October 2019

Duet (opera) (Fr. duo; Ger. Duett; It. duetto)locked

  • Marita P. McClymonds,
  • Elisabeth Cook
  •  and Julian Budden


(Fr. duo; Ger. Duett; It. duetto)

A composition for two voices, normally with accompaniment. The duet, the most popular type of operatic Ensemble , has been used in opera since its inception.

In early Italian operas duets appeared both within concerted contexts and as expressions of emotion for pairs of characters. They might be assigned to any pair from the cast (or occasionally from the chorus); they might appear at any point in the opera, or be combined with an aria, or serve to conclude a scene, an act or the opera itself. Duets might be on any scale, from brief expressions of emotion of a few bars to long, multi-sectional pieces during which the plot advanced (‘Scopriamli sì’, Ormnindo, Cavalli, 1644); they might be strophic pieces over a ground bass or might take more formal patterns – ABA′, ABBA (‘Auree trece inanella’, Ormindo) ABB′ (‘Saett’amor’, Ormindo), da capo. By the 1670s rounded ternary forms were generally favoured. Most duets began imitatively, but during the 1680s a new style started to appear in which each character sang first a short solo (often the same music but with different words); imitative dialogue then quickly led into duet textures. A da capo indication might replace the ...

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Sammelbände der Internationalen Musik-Gesellschaft
Journal of Musicology