The Teatro Petruzzelli, located in Bari, Italy, is a symbol of cultural significance and architectural beauty. However, on the night of October 26 and 27 in 1991, this iconic structure was engulfed in flames.
The fire broke out almost immediately following an opera performance. The last opera presented was Norma⁵ The flames quickly consumed the historic Teatro Petruzzelli, causing extensive damage to the stage and resulting in the collapse of the dome. Despite the immediate response from the fire department, the damage was irreparable.
Following the incident, a criminal investigation was launched. The focus of the investigation was on Ferdinando Pinto, the then manager of the structure, and some clans of organized crime in the city. However, the only person that the investigation could definitively link to the arson was Giuseppe Mesto, the material executor.
Despite five trials and all reaching the Court of Cassation, the charges put forth by the public prosecutors lacked concrete evidence. The various informants who had collaborated with the investigations were deemed unreliable. As a result, the mastermind behind the arson remains a mystery.
The fire at Teatro Petruzzelli was a tragedy that left not only the residents of Bari but also a large part of the Italian public opinion with a bitter taste. The destruction of one of the most beautiful and evocative theaters in the country was a significant loss.
The origins of the prestigious Teatro Petruzzelli date back to 1896 when two entrepreneurs from Trieste, Onofrio and Antonio Petruzzelli, obtained approval for a construction project signed by Angelo Cicciomessere, an engineer from Bitonto. The theater was completed in 1903.
On October 5th, 2009, the theater reopened. The total costs of reconstruction works after the fire, that occurred during refurbishment works, are around 50 million euros.
(1) il 27 ottobre 1991 un incendio doloso distrugge il teatro.
(3) Accidentally Wes Anderson.
(5) Incendio del Teatro Petruzzelli di Bari – 27 ottobre 1991.