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The paper describes a project that deals with the design and development of a multimedia database to access archive material from the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, such as audio and video files, photographic pictures and music scores. The purpose of the project is to make the cultural heritage of Teatro alla Scala available in digital form and allow efficient search and retrieval. The project started in 1997 at the Laboratorio di Informatica Musicale (LIM) of the University of Milan, Italy. All tapes, as well as scores, pictures, and videos of the Teatro alla Scala have been digitized and a retrieval system has been developed: the Musical Archive Information System (MAIS), which contains, among others, audio and video material from the Scala archives. Because of the nature of the data it contains, essentially multimedia, the development of the system has posed several challenges, of which the most interesting ones are described. In particular, the organization of the data is described, with particular emphasis on the treatment of musical data, together with the tools developed to provide content-based queries on musical materials from both the intranet and Internet theatre environments.