Ulderico Rolandi Collection

Digitisation process of Rolandi's librettos © Noemi La Pera
Example of digitisation © Fondazione Giorgio Cini
Digitisation process of Rolandi's librettos © Noemi La Pera
Digitisation process of Rolandi's librettos with V Scanner © Noemi La Pera

2018 – Ongoing

In 1893 Rolandi bought a small group of librettos, which formed the basis of a vast collection that he continued to add to until his death: a total of about 21,500 printed, manuscript or typescript librettos from the 16th to the 19th centuries, and various special editions. Objectives of this project are digitisation, archival description, and online publication of opera librettos.

current équipe

  • Cristian Bacchi | Fondazione Giorgio Cini
  • Ilenia Maschietto | Fondazione Giorgio Cini
  • Marianna Zannoni | Fondazione Giorgio Cini

the project

Ulderico Rolandi (Roma, 23/07/1874 – 03/12/1951) was a gynaecologist by profession, but also a critic and collector, who was actively involved in music studies. In 1893, Rolandi bought a small nucleus of opera librettos, which formed the core of his vast collection, which he increased until his death to about 21,500 examples, printed, manuscript and typescript. It consists of 16th-century librettos, librettos from the 17th to 19th century, special editions (librettos belonging to sovereigns, special formats, librettos written for theatre openings, censorships written by police and prefectures, bilingual volumes and ballet librettos). The Rolandi collection also includes a collection of musical scores and papers, musicology volumes, study materials, press reviews in the field of interest and theatrical iconographic material.

Over the years, the librettos collection has been the subject of various enhancement projects. From the 1970s until 1986 there was a collaboration with the Enciclopedia Italiana, founded by Giovanni Treccani. The project aimed to catalogue the entire collection and publish the catalogue in several volumes. Only a specimen of the first volume was published in 1986, and no others followed. From 1987 to 1990 with A.CO.M. (Archivio Computerizzato Musicale Veneto) project, a special database was created to catalogue librettos. At the end of the project, the collection was almost entirely catalogued and all the records produced were subsequently transferred to the Catalogue of the National Library Service (OPAC SBN). From 2005 to 2008, the Echo Project was carried out, whose aim was to digitise the entire collection and reclaim all the A.CO.M. records on the SBN OPAC. At the end of the project, 1119 booklets were digitised and most of the SBN records were reclaimed.


Objectives of this project are digitisation, archival description, and online publication of opera librettos.


1. Preliminary study

In the first phase, from June to July 2018, the archival history of the Rolandi collection, its formation and evolution, its donation to the Fondazione Giorgio Cini and subsequent enhancement projects were studied by the team.

2. Digitisation

Digitisation of librettos with V Scanner (ongoing, stopped in 2020). A beta version of a digital tool to facilitate the recording of the librettos and the automatic extraction of data from the files was developed and tested (ScanApp).

3. Description and creation of consultation tools

At the same time as digitization operations, the pre-existing inventory could be integrated with data on location, updated inventory numbers, description and SBN bid, state of preservation, presence of figured frontis, and/or illustrations.

4. Dissemination

Publications of librettos online on Cini’s Digital Library and inking of the digital images on the National Catalog OPAC SBN: this phase is partially completed.


V Scanner

The V Scanner is a photographic set built within Fondazione Cini. Based on an open-access design and adapted to the needs of Cini's book collections, it is meant to acquire bound material quickly and [...]