Petrella, Errico, noted Italian composer; b. Palermo, Dec. 10,1813; d. Genoa, April 7,1877. He studied at the age of 8 with the violinist Del Giudice in Naples and then at the Cons, there, becoming a free boarder when he was 11; his teachers included Bellini, Furno, Ruggi, and Zingarelli. While still a student, he received a commission to write his first opera, II Diavolo color di rosa (July 1829), for Naples’s Teatro della Fenice; it proved a success, but led him to be expelled from the Cons, for showing such daring at his age; nevertheless, he continued to receive private instruction from Ruggi. After producing 5 more operas during the next decade, he devoted himself mainly to teaching singing. In 1851 he was named music director of Naples’s Teatro Nuovo, where he successfully produced his opera Le precauzioni (May 20,1851); his next opera, Elena di Tolosa (Teatro del Fondo, Naples, Aug. 12, 1852), proved even more successful, prompting him to compose his first serious opera, Marco Visconti (Teatro San Carlo, Naples, Feb. 9, 1854), which scored a brilliant success and spread his name throughout Italy; it also led to the production of his best-known serious opera, Jone (La Scala, Milan, Jan. 26, 1858). His greatest notoriety came with his opera / promessi sposi (Lecco, Oct. 2, 1869). Petrella was the last representative of the old Neapolitan school. He was at his best in buffo works, for his serious operas could not compete with the dramatic masterpieces of Verdi.
G. Carotti, Cenni biografici e ritratto di E. P. (Turin, 1877); E Guardione, Di E. P. e della traslazion e della salma da Genova a Palermo (Palermo, 1908); G. Cosenza, Vita e opere di E. P. (Rome, 1909); G. Siciliano, Di E. P: Musicista palermitano (Palermo, 1913).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire