With Valentine's Day falling on Friday, many UT students may be planning to celebrate with romantic dinner dates and bouquets of flowers.

Though the tried-and-true routes won't likely disappoint, other students have chosen a different celebration entirely.

After all, there's an opera in town.

The Knoxville Opera is performing Donizetti's "Elixir of Love" Friday, Feb. 14, at 8 p.m. in the Tennessee Theatre.

Brian Salesky, general director and conductor of the Knoxville Opera, said performance dates rarely coincide with the actual night of Valentine's Day; the chance to perform a holiday-related show was one the executive board did not want to miss.

"We thought we should do an opera that's a lighthearted celebration of love," Salesky said. "'The Elixir of Love' is that perfect opera for that."

The romantic comedy is the 13th most performed opera in the world, according to operabase.com. It centers on the story of Nemorino, a country bumpkin who falls in love with another villager named Adina. Inspired by the story of Tristan and Isolde, Nemorino becomes convinced that a magic potion might help him earn Adina's love and buys a "cure-all" from a traveling doctor. From there, the show takes off in a whirlwind of dramatic irony.

Salesky said the romantic timing of the show has had the intended effect, reporting ticket sales are "better for this than many of the previous operas." Those who attend will also see more than one love story unfold – a Knoxville couple is getting married on stage during intermission, and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett is officiating the wedding.

Amanda Prevost, junior in accounting, got a ticket through the Chancellor's Honors Program, which has a partnership with Knoxville Opera.

"It's a fantastic, free opportunity to experience the Knoxville arts scene we seldom get away from our books and campus lives enough to enjoy," she said.

The show features Stefania Dovhan, a Ukrainian-born soprano, as the feisty Adina. Salesky also brought in Sean Anderson as Belcore, Nemorino's competition for Adina, and UT graduate student Emily Hagens as Giannetta, Adina's friend and gossip queen of the village.

The typical open call audition process takes Salesky to New York City three times a year to hear singers and cast a show. But the well-known opera director revealed a little secret about Joshua Kohl, the tenor who plays Nemorino.

"I hired Joshua Kohl from YouTube," he said, adding that he was sold on the Pennsylvania native by a clip of Kohl performing the same role for a different company. "I'm a huge fan of YouTube and I listen to singers all the time."

Brian Deedrick, former artistic director of Edmonton Opera, will direct the show, returning to Knoxville after putting on Strauss' "Die Fledermaus," at the Tennessee Theatre last year.

"He's about as great a director as you can find in the world of opera," Salesky said.

Eight current UT graduate students and four alumni will perform in the chorus. Tickets are available at knoxvilleopera.com and range from $10-$95. A second showing will be held Sunday, Feb. 16, at 2:30 p.m.

"It's a perfect introductory opera if you've never been to one," Salesky said. "It's easy on the ears and it's such a light-hearted subject."