The origins of the theatre are probably linked to the “ad signum Falconis” inn on strada di Prè, where travellers could rest before entering the city and enjoy staged performances in the garden, mostly by itinerant troupes. In 1602 the tavern was bought by Gabriele Adorno who transformed it into a proper theatre. In 1692 the first opera was performed there, Dido by Vincenzo Rena or, more probably, Gli amori di Alessandro e Rossane (The loves of Alexander the Great and Roxane) by Francesco Lucio, set to texts by Andrea Cicognini: The Republic of Genoa thus had, after Venice, the first theatre for a paying public, although in reality it was used almost exclusively by the aristocracy.
In 1679 the Adorno family put the theatre up for auction. Following extensive negotiations it was bought by Eugenio Durazzo who had remodelled and restructured the theatre by 1705, probably according to plans by Carlo Fontana: a total of five tiers, the first four with wooden boxes and on the fifth the gallery, linked to the ground floor by symmetrical staircases.
After Eugenio’s death, his nephew Girolamo Ignazio enlarged the theatre and carried out further decoration; records from the 18th Century make reference to cultural and society events, including those attended by Carlo Goldoni in 1763. Gerolamo’s heir, Marcello Giuseppe, also acquired the theatres of San Agostino and delle Vigne, thereby creating a monopoly on performances in the city. In 1824 the Durazzo estate passed to the Savoys, the new Teatro Carlo Felice theatre was inaugurated in 1828, and the old Falcone theatre began its slow but inexorable decline. Nonetheless it was here that in 1825 Nicolò Paganinni refused to repeat his performance for King Carlo Felice, resulting in his exile from the Kingdom of Sardinia.
From 1892 onwards the theatre was used to store props and tools. It was badly damaged in 1944 when a bomb tore through the roof and destroyed most of the boxes. Although the hope was that it could be restored, the Superintendent for Monuments, Carlo Ceschi, stated that the Falcone theatre “Was so seriously damaged (…) that it should be demolished”. A new building was erected in its place in 1953, designed to house various cultural events. Following further renovation work financed by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture and carried out by the Superintendence for Architectural and Landscape Heritage of Liguria,
the building was reopened to the public in 2004 as an exhibition space.