The theater, built at the behest of the Giustinian family, inaugurated in 1640, near Palazzo Giustinian and the church of San Moisé. Small in size compared to other theaters in the city, it enjoyed great success and the success of the works represented soon made it necessary to expand: in 1668 it was renovated to reach a capacity of 800 spectators. The first opera staged was "Arianna" by Ottavio Rinuccini, music by Claudio Monteverdi.
The success of the theater is owed to the impresario Francesco Santurini: thanks to careful management of ticket sales, he managed to attract an increasingly large audience, decreeing the success of the theater and the opera genre in the city.
In the eighteenth century, great artists of the caliber of Antonio Vivaldi and Tomaso Albinoni worked at San Moisè. In addition, the theater was among the first to host the Neapolitan comic opera: Baldassarre Galuppi and Carlo Goldoni collaborated precisely at San Moisé in performances of this kind.
The performances continued until 1818, the year the theater was closed. The San Moisé theater was initially adapted and used as a puppet theater, subsequently it underwent renovations and was rebuilt with the name of Teatro Minerva. At the end of the nineteenth century, the final closure. The building was transformed to accommodate commercial businesses and private homes.
Two memorable works were staged: on November 3, 1810, the first performance of the first work of "La cambiale di matrimonio" by the adult Gioacchino Rossini and on July 19, 1896 the first public screening of a film by the Lumiére brothers.