Patrimonio orale is a digital collection of oral sources for the performing arts. Conceived as an academic project, it is also designed for a wider public.

The website contains interviews about the performing arts: theatre, dance, performance, puppet theatre, etc. These interviews are organised within broader thematic projects and can be streamed. Depending on the interview, recordings are available in full or in extracts. All interviews have a metadata card that traces context information: when and where the interview took place and who did it; a detailed description; and a list of keywords mentioned. The interviews can be browsed from the project they are part of link or individually from searching in the database.

All the interviews are reposed in full in Rome at the Central Institute for Audio and Audio-visual Heritage Istituto Centrale dei Beni sonori ed audiovisivi.

Patrimonio orale was conceived in 2012 to gather and organise a complete catalogue of the interviews realised by Ormete.

In 2019, Patrimonio orale began accommodating other oral sources for the performing arts and plans to proceed in this direction. The first goal of the website is to share experiences, documents, and data. We hope that our project will be of interest to other researchers who are invited to share with us their experiences and join the wealth of collections curated by Patrimonio orale.

Accurate cataloguing and descriptions improve our knowledge and access to sources, wherever they are physically preserved. Some fundamental matters underpinned in the design of Patrimonio orale involve the way the job of a historian is conceived and how it relates to a cultural, educational, and research context, both within Theatre Studies and in the vast and international field of Oral History. As what is published online today is available for everyone, Patrimonio orale corresponds to standards of clarity and openness, as much scientific as juridical.

  1. Patrimonio orale’s cataloguing system covers the original sources, i.e., the full audio or audio-visual recordings of the interviews (it does not include transcriptions, if they exist).
  2. Patrimonio orale does not collect single interviews. Every individual oral source (interview) is part of a broader project. Therefore, even if the documentary unit (interview) is the individual source, Patrimonio orale organises the material under a tree-structure: the project and, the interviews relating to each project.
  3. Each project has a presentation page that lists the related data, including the series ID or project code, the collection to which the project belongs, the curator, the partnerships with other institutions, and external links. At the bottom of the presentation page,the list of the interviews is available with some synthetic data for each interview: surname and name of the interviewee and the interviewer, date of the interview, interview code, any restrictions regarding consultation, and online accessibility.
  4. Each source has accurate metadata, as described further under Metadata Criteria.
  5. Each source is provided with a time-coded synopsis, called a The Description is the guide to and, at the same time, the detailed index of the interview. It includes the names of places, people, and mentioned works, as well as a summary of the principal narrative passages. The Description is the data repository of the keywords and related indexes of names of places (towns, theatres, places where events occurred), people, collective organisations (theatre companies, institutions, etc.), and titles (written works, performances, movies). These are all possible points of access to the document.
  6. Patrimonio orale is designed to permit advanced searches [link] across keywords, including the interview indexes: Interviewee produces a list of all the interviews, People produces a list of the people mentioned in the interviews, Titles produces a list of the works mentioned, Places produces a list of the places mentioned, and Collective organisations produces a list of the collective organisations mentioned.
  7. Copyrights of each audio and audio-visual document published on Patrimonio orale are stated in the metadata card. See the Usage and Rights [link] for details.
  8. Patrimonio orale uploads either brief audio or audio-video extracts that exemplify important passages, or full recordings of the interviews. In the latter case, Patrimonio orale uses the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS) software, developed by the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History of the University of Kentucky []. This software allows a detailed search of the sources across keywords (the user can listen directly to the passage where the selected word is mentioned).

Due to the absence of general outlines internationally shared for oral sources, we chose to follow the Metadata Card proposed by the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History – University of Kentucky, which partially integrates the Dublin Core Metadata Standard (DCMI). In addition, we have made a few, necessary, integrations.

The metadata of each source include information useful to the following:

  • Description of the document
    • “Title” (title of the interview)
    • “Identifier” (accession number of the source), which is related to the Collection and Collection ID
    • “Series” e “Series ID” (project and project identifier)
    • “Date” (date of the interview)
    • “Creator” distinguished as Interviewee (surname and name of the interviewee, biographic card), Interviewer (surname and name of the interviewer), Index Creator (author of the Description)
  • Definition of the technical features of the source
    • “Format” (file format)
    • “Language” (language or languages of the interview)
    • “Duration” (the recording duration may not coincide with the duration of the interview)
    • “Type” (audio or video)
    • “Rights and Usage”
  • Placement of the original source (library or archive where the physical source is preserved)
  • Description of the content:
    “Description” with time-code
    “Keywords” (People, Places, Titles and Collective Organisations)
    “Coverage” (time period of the interview)
    “Relation” (relations to other documents and information, uploaded in Patrimonio orale or accessible through external links or bibliographic references)
Dublin Core Metadata
Elements Set
Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Patrimonio orale Notes


An entity responsible for making contributions to the resource

Index Creator Index Creator is the author of the Description


The spatial or temporal topic of the resource, the spatial applicability of the resource, or the jurisdiction under which the resource is relevant


Best practices suggest the use of a controlled vocabulary such as the Thesaurus of Geographic Names



An entity primarily responsible for making the resource.

Series Curator


A point or period of time associated with an event in the lifecycle of the resource.

Interview Date, Date
digitized, Publication
Interview Date
Date Digitized
Location Interview
Best practices suggest the use of a standard format (W3CDTF profile of ISO 8601)


An account of the resource.

with Table of contents
  Duration Duration:
Interview Duration
Registration Duration


The file format, physical medium, or dimensions of the resource.

Master Type, Format Master Type, Format,  


An unambiguous reference to the resource within a given context

Series ID, Accession
Number, Call number

Collection ID

Series ID

Accession Number

Collection ID (collection identifier)

Series ID (project identifier)

Accession Number (source identifier)


A language of the resource.

Language Language  


An entity responsible for making the resource available.

Collection, Series,
Publisher, Repository


A related resource.





External references, links, materials
Bibliographic references

How the source should be quoted


Information about rights held in and over the resource.

Access (solo nella scheda del progetto)






A related resource from which the described resource is derived.

Collection, Series





The topic of their source.
Themes, Subjects,
Subjects (in English)
Keywords (names of people and places, titles)
For artists names, see ULAN
A name given to the resource.
Title Title  
The nature or genre of their source
Master Type, Type Type A standard format is suggested: DCMI Type Vocabulary [DCMITYPE]
  1. D. Boyd, D. Gabbard, S. Price, Al. Boltz, Indexing Interviews in OHMS: An Overview, in Oral History in the Digital Age, edited by D. Boyd, S. Cohen, B. Rakerd, D. Reihberger, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Washington D.C., 2014,
  2. L. Cavaglieri, D. Orecchia, Voix d’Italie : le projet d’histoire orale “ORMETE”, in Revue Sciences/Lettres, 5 | 2017, published online 02/10/2017
    URL: DOI: 10.4000/rsl.1108.
  3. E. A. Mazé, Metadata: Best Practices for Oral History Access and Preservation, in Oral History in the Digital Age, edited by D. Boyd, S. Cohen, B. Rakerd, D. Reihberger, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Washington D.C., 2012 (
  4. N. MacKay,Curating Oral Histories: From Interview to Archive, Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, CA, 2007.