In Lillian Alling, our title character comes to America seeking a new life, a life away from the tumult of her homeland, Russia. But what was happening to drive her to the shores of America?
In 1917 the Russian Revolution was launched, overthrowing the Tsarist rule of Nicholas II, and beginning seven years of civil war that was to claim 20,000,000 lives.
In the opera, Lillian sings "I never look back" and with good reason. The period 1917 to 1925 was (as with most civil wars) a dark period for Russia and its people. Whether you were Bolshevik, Tsarist, Orthodox, or Jewish you were at constant risk of death from one of five factions at war.
The Reds: Bolsheviks led by V.I. Lenin were intent on unifiying the former Tsarist Empire under Communist rule.
The Whites: Supporters of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia.
The Blacks: Anarchist army centered mostly in the Ukraine and in Moscow.
The Greens: The Ukrainian nationalists determined not to fall under the rule of either the Red Army, nor the White Army.
And who were the fifth group? Your friends and neighbors. In the course of an ongoing civil war, alliances changed, local groups formed and reformed, and today's ally could be tomorrow's enemy. Against this backdrop, Lillian Alling's arrival in New York is actually a journey in progress. What challenges did she face prior to her arrival and what drove her to the shores of Ellis Island?
Stay tuned to find out.
For more on the Russian Civil War Click Here
~photo credit: Wikimedia