The need for a separate building for the city theater was especially noticeable at the end of the XIX century. At this time, Lviv was part of Austria-Hungary, officially called Lemberg and was the capital of a separate large Austrian province – the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria.
In 1895 a competition was announced, in which the project of the director of the Lviv Higher Art and Industrial School, Z. Gorgolevsky, won. He proposed a bold decision for the place of construction of the new theater. Since the center of the city was densely built up by then, the project provided for the overlapping of the city river, Poltva, with solid concrete vaults. Z. Gorgolevsky supervised all earthworks and construction works. The main burden was laid on the Lviv firm of engineer I. Lewinsky. Construction began in June 1897 and lasted almost three years.
The large city theater (the so-called Opera House until 1939) was opened on October 4, 1900. The grand opening was attended by writer Henryk Sienkiewicz, composer I. Paderewski. This evening the theater showed the production of the dramatic opera “Janek” by V. Zhelensky about the life of the inhabitants of Carpathian Verkhovyna.
In 1934 the theater was closed because of the economic crisis. In 1939 there were held People’s gatherings of Western Ukraine, which supported the annexation of Galicia and Volhynia to the Ukrainian SSR. The theater was re-opened in 1939 and was named the Lviv State Opera. In 1940-1941 the Lviv Opera was urgently Ukrainianized [the source was not specified 2157 days], the Polish language became obsolete.
In 1944, on July 22, the Lviv Opera House might not have been. Fierce fighting for Lviv, the Germans decided to mine and blow up the building of the Lviv Opera House. This information came to the command of the Ural Volunteer Tank Corps. Two tanks with detachments of submachine-gunners under the command of the Guards. Art. Lieutenant-Technician Antoninov N.I., was ordered to make his way to the theater and prevent the enemy from carrying out his terrible plan. The building was guarded by 10-12 Hitlerites, who were destroyed. The crew Antonina N.I shot the demolition men and first entered the theater thereby saved him (see Lvivskaia pravda, January 11, 1983). Other participants in this feat are Private Nikolai Zalunin, Sergeant Ivan Bokhan, Senior Sergeant Karaev, Corporal Hadoyan, Private Vsevolod Kozorez and others.
In 1956 he received the name of Ivan Franko, in 1966 – the academic title. In the late 1970s it was closed for reconstruction, it was reopened in 1984. In 1996, there was one of the meetings of the presidents of Central and Eastern Europe.