In classical music, arioso is a type of solo vocal piece, usually occurring in an opera or oratorio, falling somewhere between recitative and aria in style. Literally, arioso means airy. The term arose in the 16th century along with the aforementioned styles and monody. It is commonly confused with recitativo accompagnato.
Arioso is similar to recitative due to its unrestrained structure and inflexions, close to those of speech. It differs however in its rhythm. Arioso is similar to aria in its melodic form, both being closer to singing than recitative; however they differ in form, arioso generally not resorting to the process of repetition.
At the start of the finale in the first act of Mozart's The Magic Flute, the andante of the priest (Sprecher) "Sobald dich führt der Freundschaft Hand ins Heiligtum zum ew'gen Band" is an example of arioso. "Amor ti vieta", sung by Loris at Giordano's Fedora could be a modern arioso example.
One of the most famous ariosos was composed by Johann Sebastian Bach, and serves as the sinfonia of his cantata, Ich steh mit einem Fuß im Grabe, BWV 156, as well as the middle movement of the Harpsichord Concerto, BWV 1056.