In December 1884 and January 1885 Tchaikovsky corresponded with Vasily Kandaurov about a projected opera called The Gypsies (Цыгане) (ČW 459) , derived from Aleksandr Pushkin's 1824 poem of the same name .
Writing to Tchaikovsky on 31 December 1884/12 January 1885, Kandaurov outlined the scenario,
Act I. Night. On a river bank. Gypsy camp
Act II. Scene 1: Before sunset. A village square. Scene 2: Evening. A prison from outside; a young Gypsy is behind iron bars
Act III. Scene 1: Noon. A valley among hills. Scene 2: Deep night. Steppe. A Gypsy camp in the distance; a burial mound in the background. Night, thunder, lightning .
Although Kandaurov had already begun work on the libretto, Tchaikovsky quickly decided not to pursue the project.