The Teatro Verdi stands on the site of the eigtheenth-century Teatro Nuovo, whose construction had been commissioned by the Nobile Società del Teatro Nuovo, an organization which brought together around seventy of the most prestigious names in the city. This ‘New Theatre’ would open in 1751 as an opera house, but around twenty years later it would also begin to stage plays. Then, nearly one hundred years after its foundation, the structure would be almost entirely rebuilt, to designs by Giuseppe Jappelli.
The new theatre would open in June 1847; with the exception of Venice’s La Fenice, it was then the only theatre in the region of the Veneto to be gas-lit. Further work on the structure was required in the 1880s, undertaken by the architect Achille Sfondrini, and it was then that the theatre was renamed after Giuseppe Verdi; as was perhaps typical of him, the composer thanked Padua for the honour but declined an invitation to be present at the reopening on 8 June 1884. After the theatre had been damaged by bombing during the First World War, it was refurbished – complete with new frescoes in the cupola, by Giuliano Tommasi – and by the end of 1920 was already able to re-open. The first-night ceremony on that occasion was attended by King Vittorio Emanuele III. Though the number of shows was reduced, the theatre continued to hold performances throughout the Second World War. After the end of the conflict, it would become the property of the City Council, which since the 1950s has been involved in on-going work of improvement and repair.