It’s a simple fact of opera (and life) that time and money are finite resources—there are only so many stages in a season and so much money to go around. So when the Verdi Cycle demanded a certain production, the opportunity cost rippled through the rest of the season, pushing other operas to future seasons where time and budget would allow. But with the Verdi project finished, the Sarasota Opera House stage opens up. The 2016–17 season has already seen the company premiere of Gaetano Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, and spring productions include the premiere of Francis Poulenc’s Dialogue of the Carmelites and the return of Italo Montemezzi’s rarely produced The Love of Three Kings. A tale of political intrigue and forbidden love set against the dramatic backdrop of Dark Ages Italy, Montemezzi’s opera enjoyed great success from its 1913 premiere through World War II, after which productions became increasingly rare. And it hasn’t seen the stage in Sarasota since 2003. The most confining demands of the Verdi Cycle would manifest late season, when Sarasota Opera stages such rare works for limited runs—typically six or seven performances as opposed to a dozen or so for popular shows such as this month’s Madama Butterfly—produced on the strength of their artistry alone as opposed to guaranteed ticket sales. This is where Sarasota Opera takes its risks, and with plenty of Verdi compositions fitting the bill, the opportunities to introduce rare non-Verdi operas dwindled. “Of the unknown operas that we have done,” says Sarasota Opera Maestro Victor DeRenzi of Three Kings, “it’s the opera that I feel strongly should be in the repertoire of every opera house.” And with this season’s restaging, DeRenzi approaches the work with an extra trick up his sleeve—a rare book found in Florence containing notes from the opera’s original publisher, revealing insights into the characters’ appearances, relationships and all the telling details not found in the score. “I start from scratch and I look at the music as if I’ve never done it before,” says DiRenzi. The Love of Three Kings hits the Sarasota Opera stage this March.