The history of the Teatro Petruzzelli of Bari begins when Onofrio and Antonio Petruzzelli, traders and ship builders of Trieste presented the design of the theatre of their brother-in-law, the engineer Angelo Bari Cicciomessere (then Messeni) at the city of Bari. The proposal of the Petruzzellis was accepted and in 1896 they signed the contract between the family and the city administration. The contract is dated 29th January 1896. Two years later, in October 1898, work began and ended in 1903. Inside the theatre was painted by Raffaele Armenise. Petruzzelli took from the Corato the primacy of the largest theatre of Apulia. The theatre was inaugurated on Saturday 14th February 1903 with the masterpiece of Meyerbeer, Les Huguenots.
In the eighties, the theatre hosted two major "firsts": that of Iphigénie en Tauride by Niccolò Piccinni never represented after their debut in Paris in 1779, and the Neapolitan version of I Puritani of Bellini, written Maria Malibran but never performed. The contributed ot make the city world famous. Next to the opera scene, musical ballet, big concerts were hosted. Great international artists have walked the stage of the Petruzzelli: Tito Schipa, Herbert von Karajan, Rudolf Nureyev, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Liza Minnelli, Juliette Gréco And the great Italian artists:Eduardo De Filippo, Riccardo Muti, Carla Fracci, Luciano Pavarotti, Piero Cappuccilli and Giorgio Gaber.The Petruzzelli also hosted important light music concerts, among others Paolo Conte, Ornella Vanoni and was the headquarters of the broadcasting music Azzurro for almost all the 80s. Inside the theatre was also used as a background by directors like Franco Zeffirelli. The theater is also remembered because it was filmed the movie Polvere di stelle, of Alberto Sordi.
The Petruzzelli, reconstructed entirely with public money in the 2008 was returned to the city of Bari on September 7th 2009 for breach of art. 5 of the contract dated 29th January 1896 between the City of Bari and Antonio Onofrio and Petruzzelli. The Teatro Petruzzelli officially reopened Sunday October 4th 2009, nearly 18 years after the fire, with the execution of the Ninth Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven by the Orchestra of the Province of Bari, conducted by Fabio Mastrangelo.
On December 6th, 2009 inaugurated the first opera season in Petruzzelli rebuilt after the fire with the Turandot by Giacomo Puccini, directed by Roberto De Simone and orchestral direction of Maestro Renato Palumbo, who in September had concerted the Tosca, last title on the program of the Teatro Piccinni. A trial of this Tosca was the first hearing test for orchestra and singers after the reconstruction.