Close reading and idea encoding: digital edition of opera libretti


  • Giorgia Gallucci Università degli Studi di Padova



digital edition, close reading, TEI, opera libretti, idea encoding


This paper reviews the preparatory and operational stages that led to the development of the digital scientific edition of 57 musical dramas staged in the Republic of Lucca between 1636 and 1705 to celebrate an important political event. This case study prompts a reflection on the relationship between digital humanities and opera theater by providing a detailed state of the art: the increased interest in databases and the significant number of amateurs of the genre explain both the detected distance from the textual data and the poor online availability of philologically curated libretti. Instead, the present edition focuses on the content of the operas in terms of textual typologies, use of sources and characters and, in particular, political ideas. In describing the XML-TEI encoding scheme, this paper aims to show interpretive close reading can enhance the analysis of certain concepts, political in this case, through markup. Although acknowledging some limitations, such as the risk of overlapping and the lack of unambiguous IDs, the results highlight a new way of conceiving the commentary of digital editions which provides scholars with the possibility of using digital tools to annotate and visualize exegetical reading.



How to Cite

Gallucci, G. (2023). Close reading and idea encoding: digital edition of opera libretti. Umanistica Digitale, 7(15), 133–150.