The archive’s iconographic collection is from the 19th and 20th centuries. The archive has about 600 original stage designs, mostly from the premieres of the respective works, starting with the designs for Verdi’s Attila by Giuseppe Bertoja up to Nicola Benois’s designs for Respighi’s La Fiamma from the 1930s. The technique is usually tempera painting, but there are also designs in oils, or made as collages. For some operas there are different variations, such as for Puccini’s Tosca and La bohème, depending on the size of the intended theater.
Secondly, the picture collection consists of a collection of thousands of individual costume designs, most of them created by famous designers. It begins with the figurines for Verdi’s Il Corsaro (1848) and comprises more than 1.200 designs by Alfredo Edel, including for Verdi’s operas Il Trovatore, Don Carlos and Otello and Rossini’s Guglielmo Tell. There are more than 700 items by Adolf Hohenstein. The costume designs are often accompanied by instructions for the dressmakers on the back, and by fabric and color patterns, for the Italian operas, but also for foreign-language works from abroad, for example in Cyrillic script for Una vita per lo Zar by Mikhail Glinka, and models for the operas of Wagner, by Franz Gaul.
Thirdly, the “tavole di attrezzeria”, drawn summaries of props and stage furniture, of which about 500 are preserved in the archive, should be mentioned.