Definition and background:
A 17th and early 18th centuries setting in aria style ( arioso) of the last line or couplet of a recitative text found in most forms of Baroque vocal music, including opera. In the first half of the 18th century it is a carefully composed aria, with instrumental accompaniment, set to blank or rhymed verse and not in da capo form. By 1750 the words cavata and cavatina were used without distinction.
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary