The Alexander Theatre on Bulevardi dates from 1879. This beautiful building formerly housed the National Opera, and has been since handed over to the Cultural Office. When the Finnish National Opera finally moved into its new building, the plan was for the Alexander Theatre to become a dance theatre. However, it soon began staging opera performances and became an important venue for visiting foreign opera companies. For example, in spring 1896 it hosted the first performances in Finland of Ruggiero Leoncavallo's I pagliacci and Pietro Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana by an Italian opera company, only a few years after the operas had been premiered in Italy. A festival of Asian arts has been held there in springtime, and it has also welcomed both dance and lyric theatre. It has often functioned as an additional auditorium for the city's other theatres.
Today on the stage of the theater both theatre and dance performances are held. Some of the productions are Cultural Office productions, but others may be brought from as far away as Asia. The Sibelius Academy puts on a couple of opera productions there every year.
The Alexander Theater has a 500-seat auditorium, a technically fully equipped stage and an intimate foyer with refreshment facilities. The theatre building also houses the administration of the Cultural Office, rehearsal facilities, the Sibelius Academy Opera Studio, and the junior classes of the National Opera's ballet school.