The opera will have music by John Estacio, an Edmonton native and one of Canada's leading composers, and a libretto by playwright John Murrell. It will debut in the spring of 2010, during the company's 50th-anniversary season.
Estacio and Murrell previously collaborated on Filumena, which was also based on Canadian history, and which debuted at Calgary Opera in 2003. Their second opera, Frobisher, about an explorer who traveled to the Canadian Arctic, will premiere next season at Calgary Opera and Alberta's Banff Centre.
Alling, a Russian immigrant, is said to have become homesick while living in New York City. She set out for Siberia, traveling across Canada with the help of British Columbia's telegraph linesman. According to legend, she eventually made her way across Alaska and home to Russia.
"I am completely enamored with the haunting tale of Lillian Alling and the time she spent just outside of Vancouver while on her transcontinental voyage," Estacio said. "Already John Murrell and I have started collaborating on how Lillian's story will unfold on stage and I have started to venture into the musical world our opera will inhabit."