Teatro Carlo Gondoli

Teatro Carlo Goldoni, built by the Vendramin family in 1622, is the oldest in Venice still in existence today; offering an international repertoire and facilities to the community.

In its long history, the theatre has undergone both changes in name and several significant renovations; due to fire or structural failures.

The modern theatre is located just behind the Rialto Vaporetto stations A and B, just west of the Rialto Bridge. 

Teatro Carlo Goldoni – History and development.


Early History

Further restoration and modernisation of the theatre and change of name

Fire at “La Fenice”

The Apollo becomes the Carlo Goldoni Theatre

The agreement for the restoration and reopening of the Goldoni Theatre

Getting there

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Carlo Goldoni –  Marcus Pitteri –  probably 1740s (b. Feb. 25, 1707. Venice. – d. Feb. 6, 1793. Paris.)


Teatro Carlo Goldoni – History and development.



All the main Venetian theatres were owned by important patrician families; combining business with pleasure in the historic centre; with a competitive theatrical culture, enjoyed by all classes of people in Venice.

When most productions in Europe were still being put on by courts – economic prospects and a desire for exhibitionistic display, as well the decline in their traditional overseas trading; attracted certain renowned Venetian families to invest in the theatre during the 17th century.

The Grimani, with whom the Vendramin often inter-married, were dominant, owning what is now called the Teatro Malibran, (then called the Teatro San Giovanni Grisostomo), as well as the Teatro San Benedetto and other houses. The Veniers owned La Fenice, still the main opera house today.

Founded in 1622, in the San Salvatore district (Venetian: San Salvador), by the Vendramin family; it was first known as the “Teatro Vendramin”; but was also subsequently known as the “Teatro San Salvatore” and then the “Teatro di San Luca”. Rebuilt in the 1720s, it was renamed the “Teatro Apollo” and since 1875, the Teatro Goldoni, which still thrives as the city’s main theatre for plays.

Early History

Teatro Carlo Goldoni, built by the Vendramin family in 1622, is the oldest in Venice still in existence today; offering an international repertoire and facilities to the community.

In 1653, the theatre was destroyed by a violent fire, after which the new owners, Andrea and Zanetta Vendramin; decided to rebuild it within the old intact walls and to entrust it to external tenants.

The presence of Gaspare Torelli, an eminent figure in Venetian culture of the time; brought success; both in terms of programming and structural improvements. Unfortunately, progress was thwarted by the interference of the Grimani family; owners of three other theatres in Venice – the San Samuele, the SS. Giovanni e Paolo and the San Giovanni Grisostomo.

The Grimanis were worried about the constant success of the rival theatre and for this reason they made sure that Gaspare Torelli accepted the Farneses’ invitation to move to the court of Parma and subleased the contract with the Vendramins to them.

The rivalry between Grimani and Vendramin families, was interrupted at the beginning of the 18th century with the signing, in 1703, of a five-year contract which regulated the comic activity of the San Samuele and San Salvador theatres. From this period appears more and more frequently in documents with the name San Luca.

At the end of this agreement the contract was not renewed and the Vendramin continued the management independently, until reaching the 1752-1753 season; which was decisive due to the engagement of Carlo Goldoni at the San Luca theatre.

The arrival of Carlo Goldoni

Carlo Goldoni’s first appearance in a Venetian theater occurred in 1734, when he received commissions from the Grimani family for the theatre of San Samuele. He then came to the Vendramins, who did not miss the opportunity by offering him an advantageous deal; confident in Goldoni’s ability to compose successful and appealing works.

By virtue of this cultural and social attitude of the entire city of Venice, as well as its leaders, Goldoni was able to undertake the reform of the Theatre; which led him to create immortal works and characters; performed on stages world-wide and in many languages.

In 1775, the supervisory commission of the Provveditori de Comun, judged the San Luca theatre to be unsafe and requested a radical restoration. It reopened in the autumn of 1776, but activities gradually slowed towards the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797 and also due to an economic crisis that involved the Vendramin family.

Further restoration and modernisation of the theatre and change of name

In 1815 by “imperial decree”, a radical structural intervention took place restoring the usability of the San Luca theatre that reopened in 1817. Subsequently, the ancient Vendramin theatre in San Luca changed its name, becoming the Apollo Theatre.

Fire at the “La Fenice”

In 1836, the La Fenice was destroyed by a violent fire and spurned an agreement, with the Vendramins; to transfer the  already prepared for the upcoming Carnival, to the Apollo.

In 1844, Domenico Vendramin died prematurely, when a new and important restoration was already under consideration.  Management was taken over by his widow Regina De Marchi, who led the theatre for almost forty years;  making sure that her husband’s restoration project was carried out. It was the first theatre in Italy to have gas lighting and a complete new lighting system installed. From the 1860s, a period of revival of theatrical activity began, which took off and accompanied the last decade of the Apollo theatre.

The Apollo becomes the Carlo Goldoni Theatre

The actor Angelo Moro Lin together with Regina De Marchi, took the initiative to name the ancient theatre of San Luca after Carlo Goldoni. It took place on the evening of 26 February 1875, one day after the anniversary of Goldoni’s birth; delayed due to heavy snowfall.

In 1880, Regina De Marchi, widow of the last of the Vendramins, died and the property passed to various people linked to the family; before Antonio Marigonda’s ownership.

These were important years for the theatre, as they focused on a commitment for redevelopment; not only from a structural viewpoint, but also through extreme care in defining artistic choices. Goldoni was able to attract many the most important Italian as well as foreign performers, to a point where by the 1909 season; Venice was placed immediately after Milan and Rome, in terms of box office takings.

Unfortunately, the sudden death of Antonio Marigonda, marked an abrupt halt to the company’s success and led to a rapid decline in activity. In 1937, the theatre changed owners again and was purchased by the lawyer Giacomo Baldissera, Baron Treves De’ Bonfili; with the management entrusted to the ICSA (Imprese Cinematografie Spettacoli e Affini).

During the difficult years of the Second World War, the theatre remained operational, but in June 1947 it was proclaimed unusable and it was closed due to the precarious structural conditions that required an almost total rebuilding.



The agreement for the restoration and reopening of the Goldoni Theatre

The first ten years passed amidst the impossibility of finding an agreement between the last owner, the lawyer Baldissera and the municipal administration, which eventually took over the building. After a few years, the Superior Council of Public Works approved a project which spoke of restoration but not total renovation. Partial demolition of the building was proposed, with the conservation of some structures.

Much debates ensued, between conservatives (who supported the philosophy of “how it was, where it was”) and innovators (who advocated the creation of a work with modern structures). In the end, a new project was approved in 1964, keeping the interior essentially similar to the previous version, albeit with some changes and building the exterior completely new. The auditorium has four tiers of boxes and galleries, with a total capacity of 800 seats. The stage is 12 metres (39 feet) wide and 11 metres (36 feet) deep.

Thirty-two years after its closure on the 22 April 1979, at a total cost of almost three and a half billion lire, the theatre was reopened to the city again. The first performance was “La Locandiera” by Goldoni.

For more than a decade the Municipality of Venice managed the theatre itself, gradually entrusting it to different directors, including the renowned Giorgio Gaber. Finally, from 1992 until today; it was handed over to the management of the Teatro Stabile del Veneto. The archives of the Teatro Vendramin’, are now held in the museum that was Goldoni’s house.


Getting there

Vaporetto: Line 1 or 2 towards Rialto stop. On foot, about 20 minutes from St Mark’s Square or 25 minutes from the St Lucia Rail Terminus or Piazzale Roma Bus Terminus. Located just behind the Rialto Vaporetto stations A & B, (the two furthest from the Rialto bridge).


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Contact information  

Address: S. Marco, 4650/ B – 30124 Venice

Switchboard: +39 049 8777011

Ticket office telephone: 041 2402011    Email: biglietteria.teatrogoldoni@teatrostabileveneto.it

Teatro Stabile del Veneto (Teatro Goldoni)


Read in conjunction with my other theatre-related posts:

15 – Casa di Carlo Goldoni

“Teatro La Fenice”

“The Malibran Theatre”

“Carlo Gozzi”


Teatro Carlo Goldoni    Teatro Carlo Goldoni    Teatro Carlo Goldoni    Teatro Carlo Goldoni

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