Teatro Petruzzelli

Bari, Italy | C.1898

Photo Credit: Jennifer Cutrì

If not for a pair of industrious brothers, the Teatro Petruzzelli may never have been built. For over a century, the theater, located in Italy’s coastal city of Bari, has entertained guests with operas, ballets, and concerts situated just blocks from the Adriatic Sea. But it took a lot of patience to get to that point.

Brothers Onofrio and Antonio Petruzzelli were prominent traders with a knack for identifying business opportunities. When Bari’s City Council offered to give 12,000 lire and a plot of land towards building a theater, the brothers jumped on the chance to develop a piece of Bari real estate, presenting plans drawn up by their brother-in-law.

The brothers must’ve had more patience than most — or were just super passionate about building the Teatro — because it took 18 years before the proposal was approved and another three before construction even began. In 1903, the Teatro celebrated its grand opening with a performance to an impressive capacity crowd.

Since then, both traditional opera and contemporary performers have graced its stage, along with some unexpected trials. When World War II struck, the theater served as an entertainment venue for Allied troops. Yet, despite enduring the destruction of the War, the Teatro would meet a fiery demise at the hands of an arsonist.

In 1991, almost immediately following an opera performance, a fire broke out completely destroying the theater. It was later revealed that an arsonist was responsible for the blaze that wiped out one of Italy’s most iconic theater buildings. Thankfully, the legacy of the Teatro (and the Brothers Petruzelli) was not to be shaken. In 2008, the Teatro was rebuilt and restored to its former glory, but with a few extra safety measures in place.

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