The American soprano, Barbara Bonney, received training in Canada and with Walter Raninger at the Salzburg Mozarteum.
In 1979 Barbara Bonney became a member of the Darmstadt Opera, where she made her first appearance as Anna in Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor. Among her subsequent roles were Blondchen, Adina, Cherubino, Gilda, Massenetís Manon, and Natalie in Henzeís Der Prinz von Homburg. In 1983-1984 she appeared with the Frankfurt am Main Opera, the Hamburg State Opera, and the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. In 1984 she made her first appearance at Londonís Covent Garden as Sophie. In 1985 she made her debut at Milanís La Scala as Pamina. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in New York in March 1988 as Najade in Ariadne auf Naxos, where she returned to sing Adele and Sophie. In 1989 she made her first appearance at the Chicago Lyric Opera as Adele.
Barbara Bonney is considered as one of the world's most accomplished lyric sopranos. She now leads the field in her chosen repertory of roles by Mozart and Richard Strauss and is increasingly recognised as one of the finest Lieder and concert performers of her generation.
Barbara Bonney sings with the world's leading opera companies and her interpretations of Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier under Sir Georg Solti and Carlos Kleiber have both been released on video, as has her performance of the role of Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) from La Scala, Milan. She is also a regular guest with the Vienna State Opera, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and in Munich, Hamburg and Geneva.
In concert Barbara Bonney has recently appeared with the Vienna Philharmonic under Seiji Ozawa and Riccardo Muti, the Berlin Philharmonic under Claudio Abbado (singing Gustav Mahler), Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (G. Mahler 2) and the Norddeutscher Rundfunk with John Eliot Gardiner (Paradies und die Peri and G. Mahler 4). In summer 1995 she took up a residency at the Tanglewood Festival in the USA, and performed extensively with Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra in addition to giving recitals and master-classes.
Recent engagements included Falstaff and L'elisir d'amore at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, plus Le Nozze di Figaro and Der Rosenkavalier at the Bastille Opera in Paris. In addition Barbara Bonney toured Japan with Seiji Ozawa and undertook a major European tour with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and Mariss Jansons.
Barbara Bonney is also a prolific recording artist and her outstanding recordings to date have included many with Claudio Abbado, John Eliot Gardiner and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Her most recent release with John Eliot Gardiner on Deutsche Grammophon (Lehár's Die lustige Witwe) has met with great critical acclaim as have her recital discs of Lieder by Richard Strauss, Mozart, Wolf, Mendelssohn and Schubert, all accompanied by the late Geoffrey Parsons. In addition there are complete recordings of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni and Die Zauberflöte with both Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Östman, and Engelbert Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel under Jeffrey Tate. Recent releases also include La Clemenza di Tito for Decca and Exsultate Jubilate with Trevor Pinnock, plus Carmina Burana with André Previn for DGG. She continues her Lieder series with discs accompanied by Previn and Ashkenazy. For Hyperion she participated in the recordings of Purcell's complete songs with Robert King and The King's Consort.
Barbara Bonney was briefly married to the Swedish baritone Håkan Hagegård, and then to Maurice Whitaker, an orchestral touring administrator at her agency. In August 2006, Barbara Bonney has cancelled all upcoming concerts and tours, according to a statement on the website of IMG Artists, which had been her representatives. The statement, dated August 1, says that "due to personal circumstances, [Bonney] will not be performing for the foreseeable future"; it also states that "Ms. Bonney is no longer represented by IMG Artists." When she withdrew from all forthcoming engagements, many in the opera world wondered whether she'd ever sing in public again. But in summer 2007, she returned to public performance with a concert at the Verbier Festival, and in Junr 2008 British audiences finally had the chance to savour her unique artistry with a recital at Cadogan Hall in Sloane Square as part of the 2008 Chelsea Festival.