A Doll's House received its world premiere on 21 December 1879 at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, with Betty Hennings as Nora, Emil Poulsen as Torvald, and Peter Jerndorff as Dr. Rank. Writing for the Norwegian newspaper Folkets Avis, the critic Erik Bøgh admired Ibsen's originality and technical mastery: "Not a single declamatory phrase, no high dramatics, no drop of blood, not even a tear." Every performance of its run was sold out. Another production opened at the Royal Theatre in Stockholm, on 8 January 1880, while productions in Christiania (with Johanne Juell as Nora and Arnoldus Reimers as Torvald) and Bergen followed shortly after.
In Germany, the actress Hedwig Niemann-Raabe refused to perform the play as written, declaring, "I would never leave my children!" Since the playwright's wishes were not protected by copyright, Ibsen decided to avoid the danger of being rewritten by a lesser dramatist by committing what he called a "barbaric outrage" on his play himself and giving it an alternative ending in which Nora did not leave. A production of this version opened in Flensburg in February 1880. This version was also played in Hamburg, Dresden, Hanover, and Berlin, although, in the wake of protests and a lack of success, Niemann-Raabe eventually restored the original ending. Another production of the original version, some rehearsals of which Ibsen attended, opened on 3 March 1880 at the Residenz Theatre in Munich.
In Great Britain, the only way in which the play was initially allowed to be given in London was in an adaptation by Henry Arthur Jones and Henry Herman called Breaking a Butterfly. This adaptation was produced at the Princess Theatre, 3 March 1884. Writing in 1896 in his book The Foundations of a National Drama, Jones says: "A rough translation from the German version of A Doll's House was put into my hands, and I was told that if it could be turned into a sympathetic play, a ready opening would be found for it on the London boards. I knew nothing of Ibsen, but I knew a great deal of Robertson and H. J. Byron. From these circumstances came the adaptation called Breaking a Butterfly." H. L. Mencken writes that it was A Doll’s House “denaturized and dephlogisticated. … Toward the middle of the action Ibsen was thrown to the fishes, and Nora was saved from suicide, rebellion, flight and immortality by making a faithful old clerk steal her fateful promissory note from Krogstad’s desk. … The curtain fell upon a happy home.“
Before 1899 there were two private productions of the play in London (in its original form as Ibsen wrote it) — one featured George Bernard Shaw in the role of Krogstad. The first public British production of the play in its regular form opened on 7 June 1889 at the Novelty Theatre, starring Janet Achurch as Nora and Charles Charrington as Torvald. Achurch played Nora again for a 7-day run in 1897. Soon after its London premiere, Achurch brought the play to Australia in 1889.
The play was first seen in America in 1883 in Louisville, Kentucky; Helena Modjeska acted Nora. The play made its Broadway premiere at the Palmer's Theatre on 21 December 1889, starring Beatrice Cameron as Nora Helmer. It was first performed in France in 1894. Other productions in the United States include one in 1902 starring Minnie Maddern Fiske, a 1937 adaptation with acting script by Thornton Wilder and starring Ruth Gordon, and a 1971 production starring Claire Bloom.
A new translation by Zinnie Harris at the Donmar Warehouse, starring Gillian Anderson, Toby Stephens, Anton Lesser, Tara FitzGerald and Christopher Eccleston opened in May 2009.
The play was performed by 24/6: A Jewish Theater Company in March 2011, one of their early performances following their December 2010 lower Manhattan launch.
In August 2013, Young Vic, London, Great Britain, produced a new adaptation of A Doll's House directed by Carrie Cracknell based on the English language version by Simon Stephens. In September 2014, in partnership with Brisbane Festival, La Boite located in Brisbane, Australia, hosted an adaptation of A Doll's House written by Lally Katz and directed by Stephen Mitchell Wright. In June 2015, Space Arts Centre in London staged an adaptation of A Doll's House featuring the discarded alternate ending. 'Manaveli' Toronto is preparing to stage a Tamil version of A Doll's House(ஒரு பொம்மையின் வீடு)on 30 June 2018, Directed by Mr P Wikneswaran.