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Opera Career Headed For Primetime



Stephanie Dykes Novacek ’92 never won a part in any of her high school musicals.

This fall, she starred in “Carmen” at the Houston Grand Opera.
Bizet’s title character is a mezzo-soprano’s dream. At 30, Novacek nabbed it early. “For my voice type, that is about the epitome,” says Novacek, who lives in Minneapolis with her husband, Jon Haddorff.

Novacek’s other starring roles have included headstrong Jo in Mark Adamo’s adaptation of “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott. Adamo composed the part for Novacek, whose performance from Houston last spring is slated to air on PBS this season.

Novacek had summer engagements with the Cincinnati Opera and Opera Company of Philadelphia. Last season, she made her Washington Opera debut.

Novacek credits Cornell’s Marcella Lee ’48 with steering her toward a music career. Novacek studied voice with Lee in high school and applied to Cornell at Lee’s urging, but intended to major in pre-med. Lee, now a Cornell professor emerita, encouraged Novacek to try a music class or two, then cast her in the starring role of Susannah in Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.”

“Once I stepped on that stage, that was it. I changed my major,” says Novacek.

Novacek earned a master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1996. The same year, she was one of three singers selected from 500 applicants for a spot with the Houston Grand Opera Studio.

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