The Voice | The Da Capo Aria | Late Baroque | Opera

A da capo aria is a simple formula dictated by the two-part organization of an aria’s libretto text. Its mood could vary between rage, jealousy, despair or joy, according to the demands of the location of the plot. The singer’s text can either directly describe their predicament, or take the form of a simile that has allegorical relevance to the course they must pursue.

The first section in which a character expresses a particular emotion has an orchestral introduction (a ritornello), a dynamic opening vocal statement, and then subsequent development of that theme before a closing ritornello. Then, in a shorter middle section, usually in a different but related key, the character clarifies, contradicts or explores a wider context for the emotion, before consolidating his or her emotional response to events with an entire repeat of the first section. In this repeat of the entire first section, known as the da capo, the singer was expected to embellish the vocal line with difficult ornaments and to conclude the aria with an extempore cadenza.

Styles & Forms | Late Baroque | Opera
The Voice | The Training of the Castrati | Late Baroque | Opera


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