The “Teatro dell'Opera di Roma” was named Teatro Costanzi from its construction in 1879 to the purchase by the Governorship of Rome in 1926, taking the name after Domenico Costanzi (1810-1898), the contractor who build it and who entrusted the realization to the Milanese architect Achille Sfondrini (1836-1900). It was erected in just eighteen months in the site where the ancient Elagabalus' Villa stood, and it was inaugurated on 27 November 1880 with a performance of “Semiramide” by Gioacchino Rossini. Sfondrini paid particular attention to the theater acoustics, conceiving the the interior structure as a “resonance chamber” as can be seen from the horseshoe shape. Originally it had three tiers of boxes, an amphitheater and a gallery with a seating capacity of 2212, and it was surmounted by a fine dome with frescos by Annibale Brugnoli (1843-1915). Costanzi had invested virtually his entire fortune in the theater and when the Rome City Council refused to buy it, he was obliged to menage it himself. Despite the various financial problems, during the direction of the “impresario”, the opera house held many world premiers of operas, including “Cavalleria Rusticana” (17 May 1890) and “L'Amico Fritz” (31 October 1891) by Pietro Mascagni. Another great premiers, such as “Tosca” by Giacomo Puccini (14 January 1900) and Mascagni's “Le Maschere” (17 January 1901), were organize during the management of Enrico, son of Costanzi and his successor for a brief period until 1907, when the theater was took over by Walter Mocchi (1870-1955) on behalf of the Società Teatrale Internazionale e Nazionale (STIN). In 1912 his wife the soprano Emma Carelli, took his place as director of the new “Impresa Costanzi”.
When the theater was bought by Rome City Council becoming of public domain, his name was changed in “Teatro Reale dell'Opera” and was partially renovated by architect Marcello Piacentini. It was closed from 15 November 1926 and inaugurated again on 27 of Febrary 1928 with the opera “Nerone” by Arrigo Boito conducted by Gino Marinuzzi. In 1937 debuted the prestigious summer season at the Baths of Caracalla with “Lucia di Lammermoor” by Gaetano Donizetti and Puccini's “Tosca”. With the advent of republic in 1946 the name was changed to the current denomination “Teatro dell'Opera” and the building was remodelled and modernized. Over the years a succession of famous singers treated the boards of the stage: Caruso, Gigli, Šalljaplin, Pertile, Lauri Volpi, Muzio, Caniglia, Callas, Tebaldi, Montserrat Caballè, Horne, Kabaivanska, Del Monaco, Corelli, Di Stefano, Gobbi, Kraus, Raimondi, Carreras, Domingo, Pavarotti. Well known conductors such as: Kleiber, Klemperer, Toscanini, De Sabata, Marinuzzi, Gui, Serafin, Von Karajan , Gavazzeni, Solti, Abbado, Pretre, Mehta, Maazel, Rostropovich, Patanè, Sinopoli, Sawallisch, Sanzogno, Gelmetti, Muti.