The theatre was built by Orazio Cecconi in 1770, under the guidance of the architect Zanobi del Rossoand the engineer Bombicci. It replaced the old Stanzone degli Stravaganti theatre in Banchi, by then too small.
Construction was financed by the Prini family, candlemakers. In 1771 it was inaugurated with a performance of Metastasio’s Antigone. Performances and manifestations of various nature were held there and the Grand Duke Peter Leopold and his family were not infrequently in the audience. In 1788 The Grand Duke imposed it as the only place in Pisa licensed for performances. In 1798 the property passed from the Prini family to the Accademia dei Costanti, who billed tragedies by Alfieri, popular plays and operas, and hosted famous performers such as Niccolò Paganini.
A new academy, the Ravvivati, took over in 1824 and employed the great architect Alessandro Gherardesca to modernise the interior. The theatre soon became the meeting place for patriots and for 25 years was the most important theatre in Pisa. The Livornese actor Ernesto Rossi, after whom the theatre was later named, made his debut here.
The theatre’s last great appointment with opera was in 1870, when Norma was shown. In later years Teatro Rossi hosted mainly operettas and vaudeville and - hesitantly - films. Because of debts, it was sold by auction and became State property but remained open until 1966; for the next ten years the auditorium was used for storage. Since partial restoration by the PSAE-BAP Superintendence, several plays have been billed. Inside, the boxes and part of the ceiling are still visible as well as part of the stage