Palermo has a few major venues for the performing arts. the Teatro Massimo is the city's premier opera house. It opened in 1864 after a couple decades of delay due to scandal and cost shortages. It is the largest theatre in Italy, and the third largest opera house in all of Europe, with room for over 1300 people. The theatre underwent a major renovation beginning in 1974 which lasted a quarter of a century, again because of corruption and political intrigue. Today, the house puts on operas and ballets, as well as concerts featuring classical music and solo performances.

     Additionaly, there is the Teatro Politeama, completed in 1891. Constructed as part of a massive urban expansion project, it was originally slated as a venue for popular entertainment, and stood in opposition to the fiercely aristocratic Teatro Massimo. The building is modeled after circular Roman amphitheaters, and sports a triumphant Quadriga of Apollo above the entrance. The theatre puts on performances of many different sorts throughout the year.

     For performances of plays, there is the Teatro Lelio and the Teatro Biondo for traditional theater, and the Teatro Libero for more offbeat performances. Puppet enthousiasts should try the Teatro Siciliana Zappala for traditional puppet shows in Sicilian dialect.