Definition and background:
See barcarola. Also [It.] barcarola, [It.] barcarole, [It.] barcaruola. a barcarolle is a boating-song, generally used to describe the boating-songs of gondoliers in Venice, imitated by composers in songs and instrumental pieces in the 19th century. Chopin wrote one such barcarolle for piano, and Mendelssohn provided four shorter piano pieces of this kind. at the end of the century and in the early 20th century the French composer Gabriel Faure wrote thirteen barcarolles. There is a particularly well known barcarolle in Offenbach's opera the tales of Hoffmann (les Contes d'Hoffmann).
For more information on the music term "Barcarolle" check out these other resources:
Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary