Life and career
Petri began his career after World War II, making his stage debut in 1947 at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, where he sang the following year the role of Creonte in the premiere of Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex, he also sang there his first Don Giovanni in 1950, a role he quickly became associated with throughout Italy.
He appeared in Rome, Florence, Venice, Parma, Bergamo, Verona, Naples. He sang opposite Maria Callas in the revival of Cherubini's Medea. In 1951, for the celebration of Verdi's 50th death anniversary, he sang on Italian radio (RAI) in I Lombardi, I masnadieri, and Simon Boccanegra.
Soon his reputation as Don Giovanni led to invitation to appear at the festivals of Glyndebourne, Salzburg, and Edinburgh. He sang relatively little outside Europe, though he made a few guest appearances in Dallas, in 1965.
On records, Petri can be heard in L'italiana in Algeri, opposite Giulietta Simionato as Isabella and Cesare Valletti as Lindoro, under Carlo Maria Giulini, as well as the aforementioned I Lombardi and Simon Boccanegra.
A 1960 Italian television production of Don Giovanni has been released on DVD, with a cast including Teresa Stich-Randall as Anna, Leyla Gencer as Elvira, Graziella Sciutti as Zerlina, Luigi Alva as Ottavio, and Sesto Bruscantini as Leporello.
From 1960 to 1965 he appeared in 18 motion pictures, mostly in the Sword and Sandal genre.
- Seneca/L'incoronazione di Poppea
- Don Basilio/Il barbiere di Siviglia
- Count Robinson/La cambiale di matrimonio
- King Creon/Medea
- Don Tritemio/Il filosofo di campagna
- Duke Don Alfonso/Lucrezia Borgia
- Jack Rance/La fanciulla del west
- Alvise/La Gioconda
- Simon Mago/Nerone
- Arkel/Pelléas et Mélisande