Well, the dances got no big production in the simulcast version. In fact, nothing did. The sets were bare walls; different-colored spotlights indicated changes of scene. The effect of those tall, imposing, unadorned walls was to dwarf all the people onstage, a far cry from intimate chamber drama. The only near-intimacy came with the camera's close-ups, but of course the New York audiences didn't get any of that.

At the opening, the stage floor was covered with leaf litter to tell us the action was outdoors. Then Tatyana's bed and writing desk were placed in the middle of that leafy floor for her letter scene. Renée Fleming spent as much time writing as she could, but at one point she danced around scooping up leaves and tossing them over her head in girlish glee. Leaf litter from her bedroom floor. Right. That's an example of one thing that bothered me about the opera: so many orchestral passages go on so long that the singers have nothing to do except stand there like statues or indulge in nonsensical stage business.

The three dances were color-coded. The peasants were brown and beige; the country dancers were bright pastels; and for the St. Petersburg ball, everyone wore black. For St. Petersburg, chairs were placed on the stage in an exact rectangle, and the dancers all stayed inside that rectangle. (Did Czarist Russia really have Hepplewhite chairs in its homes?) Two of the dancers were real dancers, and they did their thing for about a minute. That was the only enhancement added.

As to the two faces of Tatyana -- Fleming played the romantic young girl by hunching down a little and wearing pink ruffles; for the mature Princess, she stood up straight and wore black mesh. She sang real purty, though.