In a letter to Modest Tchaikovsky of 13/25 January 1870, in which the composer mentioned he was composing the Chorus of Flowers and Insects for Mandragora, he wrote about an idea for an opera on the subject of Raimond Lully, also suggested to him by Sergey Rachinsky. "Now Rachinsky is preparing for me a very interesting scenario called Raimond Lully" . However, within a month Tchaikovsky had begun work on the opera The Oprichnik, and nothing more was heard of Raimond Lully.
Raimond Lully was a legendary Spanish warrior, poet, magician and missionary from the 13th century. Count A. K. Tolstoy wanted to use him in the poem The Alchemist, of which he wrote only delightful extracts. At the start of the opera our Raimond is a Don Juan-like figure. With him, in the form of a Leporello/Mephistopheles figure, is a treacherous Moor. Lully is in love with Donna Inez, but she is overcome with despair at his debauched lifestyle, and retreats to a nunnery, which fills Raimond with a mad passion. He rides on horseback into the chapel during service. The people flee in terror, and the priest excommunicates him. Duet (a climax of musical art) between Inez and Raimond, during which he [Raimond] is converted from his wild youthful ways, to a life of contemplation. We then pass straight to the warrior-hero missionary Raimond in Africa. There he is fatally injured at the hand of the Moor, and he dies in the arms of Inez, who has been sent from the nunnery to purchase the freedom of some Christian prisoners. The whole thing is in a highly mystical style" .