The 1831 opera “Norma” is considered one of the most difficult to produce, in large part because of the demand put on the show's lead soprano. This March, Boston audiences will have an opportunity to see the opera for themselves, when it's shown in a rendition produced by the Boston Lyric Opera.

On Friday, B.L.O’s general artist director, Esther Nelson, joined by Elena Stikhina, who plays the titular lead, joined Boston Public Radio to discuss the show and what it took to come together.

I would never dream of putting on “Norma” in the season without having Norma in mind in the first place,” Nelson said. “It was cast for [Stikhina.]”

Soprano Elena Stikhina, who was born in Lesnoy, Russia, also spoke about the show's demanding reputation. "Norma is part of the bel canto operas, which [are] very difficult to sing because you need to have a very light and very smooth voice,” she explained. “You have to have very good technique … and you need to have a lot of health to sing this opera, because it’s [a] very long part. You sing almost [the] whole opera.”

So what is “Norma,” which is performed in Italian, all about?

"It’s actually, sort of… an admonishment against the former Roman Empire,” Nelson explained.

"Ultimately what opera is, is a human story. And we identify with the emotions of this woman, Norma, who is very conflicted about her responsibilities as she is the high priestess. ... She was not supposed to have any children, she was supposed to be virginal … but nevertheless, she is a woman, a full blooded woman who falls in love, has children and she’s conflicted about it."

“Norma” is playing at Emerson College’s Cutler Majestic Theatre from March 13th through the 22nd.