When the Houston Symphony brought a new semi-staged production of Beethoven’s Fidelio to Jones Hall for the Performing Arts this spring, it featured not just singers and chorus, but also Tony Award-winning actress Phylicia Rashad. Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada led the combined forces in the opera, which depicts the heroic struggles of a devoted wife who disguises herself as a man to rescue her husband, a political prisoner. In the Houston Symphony’s rendering of the opera, spoken German-language dialogue was replaced with narration by Rashad—herself a Houston native—of excerpts from iconic speeches, poetry, and literature that relate to the opera’s themes of freedom, political struggle, and “the power of hope in the face of tyrannical oppression,” as Houston-based director Tara Faircloth described it. Singers performed on walkways and platforms in, around, and in front of the orchestra musicians.