Built in 1622 by the Vendramin family, from which it initially takes its name. At the time, it was also called the Theater of San Salvador or San Luca.
Destroyed by a fire in 1653, it was rebuilt within the walls that remained intact and assigned to external contractors, including Gaspare Torelli, who left his mark in the planning and structure, becoming a promoter of restorations and improvements.
In 1752, Carlo Goldoni landed at the theater, who delivered his works directly to the owner, while remaining free to print them at any publisher. By virtue of this artistic freedom, Goldoni undertook the reform of the theater which led him to create immortal works and characters. In particular, in his last season at the San Luca theater in 1761, he produced famous comedies such as "The holiday trilogy", "Sior Todero brontolon", "Le baruffe chiozzotte" and "One of the last evenings of carnival".
After Goldoni left, Francesco Vendramin continued the activity of the theater in an entrepreneurial form, until it closed in 1775: for too long the theater had not undergone maintenance and restoration and was therefore considered dangerous.
The theater resumed its activities in 1776, after a restoration that included moving the entrance to Calle Berizi (now Calle del Teatro), creating an atrium and increasing the number of boxes.
Closed in 1797, due to the collapse of the Serenissima and the restrictive decrees of the Ministry of the Interior, it reopened in 1817. It was again modernized to withstand the competition of the newborn Phoenix. In 1833, after the umpteenth interventions, the theater changed its name to become Teatro Apollo. Three years later, when the Phoenix was destroyed by a terrible fire, the Apollo also absorbed its theatrical production.
After the death of Domenico Vendramin, a further restoration gave the theater, in 1853, the characteristic flowery neo-Gothic aspect. In 1874, a further restoration cleaned up the structure and decorations. At this point the theater housed about 1250 spectators between stalls and galleries and had 5 exits on the public road. The following year, the theater changed its name once again: on February 26, 1875, it definitively became Teatro Carlo Goldoni, to pay homage to the illustrious Venetian playwright. After the inauguration ceremony, with the discovery of the bust of Goldoni by the sculptor Soranzo, the Goldoni Theater inaugurated with the performance of "One of the last evenings of carnival", the last work that the author composed in Venice.
New restorations took place in the twentieth century: in 1909 the façade was renewed, later defined as "railway style".
In 1923, the theater celebrated its fourth century of activity, with the return of Eleonora Duse to the Venetian scene after twenty years. The performances continued until 1947. A long closure followed, during which the theater was acquired by the Municipality of Venice and underwent new interventions. Definitely returned to the public in 1979, it was inaugurated with the representation of Goldoni's "La locandiera".
The municipality managed the theater for several years, entrusting it to various directors - including Giorgio Gaber - until it was handed over in 1992 to the Teatro Stabile del Veneto Association.
Among the distinctive events of the theater, the so-called "Goldoni's mockery" is also remembered: in March 1945, a group of the Biancotto Brigade burst onto the stage during the performance of Pirandello's "Vestire gli Ignudi". Keeping the fascists and Germans present in the hall at gunpoint, the group made an appeal for resistance and freedom, threw posters in the hall and walked away undisturbed. The event is commemorated by a marble plaque inside the theater.
The Goldoni is a typical Italian theater: it has a room divided into a stalls and four tiers of gallery-boxes. Altogether it hosts 800 spectators and its stage is 12 meters wide and 11.2 meters deep.