The Malibran Theater rises above the ancient site of Marco Polo's residence, Ca 'Milion, which was destroyed by a fire around the end of the sixteenth century.
The Grimani family, already owners of the theaters of San Samuele and San Giovanni e Paolo, commissioned this theater to the architect Tommaso Bezzi known as the Stucchino and named it after San Giovanni Grisostomo: the inauguration was held during the carnival of 1678.
It soon became the most important and luxurious stage in Venice, as well as a place for dances and social parties organized by the owners; great interpreters - such as Margherita Durasanti - and illustrious composers - including Pollarolo, Scarlatti, Händel collaborate with the theater.
The theater resisted until the 1830s, even directed by Carlo Goldoni, who introduced prose representations. From the middle of the century, however, the theater underwent a phase of decline, after the opening of smaller theaters.
One of the few theaters not to close following the French occupation, the San Giovanni Grisostomo was acquired by the Gallo family who restored it by commissioning it to the architect Giuseppe Salvadori. In 1835 the arena was renamed Malibran, in honor of the famous opera singer Maria Garcìa Malibran who on April 2 of the same year performed interpreting La Sonnambula and renouncing her remuneration.
In 1849, while all the theaters in the Veneto closed in protest after the Austrian occupation, the Malibran was the only one to remain open.
After the auction took place in 1866 it remained closed for restorations until 1890. In the twentieth century, the theater underwent further changes of ownership and closures (in 1913 it was closed for safety reasons), but remained active with good regularity, presenting works, operettas, cinema shows. When it reopened in 1919, the theater was also used for the projection of film events.
Purchased in 1992 by the Municipality of Venice, it has been enlarged, restored and definitively put back into business. After the fire in 1996, for a period the Fenice orchestra was hosted at the Malibran which, thanks to the performances set up, was further re-evaluated.
Currently, the management is entrusted to the La Fenice Theater Foundation, a private law body that counts among its members the Italian State, the Veneto Region, the Municipality of Venice and numerous public and private entities. The Teatro la Fenice uses it for some of its activities, among these it plays the role of an experimental production center through a continuous and articulated program capable of involving the young artistic energies present in the Venetian territory. The project involves the IUAV Faculty of Design and Arts, the Benedetto Marcello Conservatory, the Ca 'Foscari University and the Academy of Fine Arts.