The German soprano (and mezzo-soprano), Gabriele Schnaut, grew up in Mainz, studied there first violin playing and Lieder singing. From 1971 to 1978 she studied singing at the Musikhochschule of Frankfurt a.M. as a pupil of Elsa Cavelti, then in Darmstadt with Aga Zeh-Landzettel and in Berlin with Hanne-Lore Kuhse.
In 1976 Gabriele Schnaut received her first stage engagement at the Stuttgart State Opera. In the years 1978-80 she was engaged at the National Theatre of Darmstadt, and from 1980 to 1988 she was a member of the National Theatre Mannheim. There she appeared in 1987 in the premiere of the opera Die Hamletmaschine by Wolfgang Rihm as Ophelia. In 1985 she sang her first dramatic soprano role at the Opera House of Dortmund as Isolde in Tristan. Since 1988 she was at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf-Duisburg, and at the same time she had an international career. She had great successes at the Festival of Bayreuth. She appeared there in 1977-1980 as Waltraute and as 2nd Norn, in 1980 as Wellgunde in Der Ring des Nibelungen, in 1985-1987 as Venus in Tannhäuser, in 1985-1986 as 3rd Norn, in 1986 as Sieglinde in Der Ring des Nibelungen, in 1987-1990 as Ortrud in Lohengrin. She made guest appearances in 1987 in Geneva as Sieglinde in Walküre, in 1985 in Dortmund, in 1987 in Cologne and in 1988 with big success in Hamburg as Isolde in the Tristan. In Hamburg she also sang in 1989 Els in Der Schatzgräber by Fr. Schreker, in Düsseldorf in 1989 Lady Macbeth in Verdiís Macbeth.
In 1989 Gabriele Schnaut made her debut at the Covent Garden in London as Sieglinde. Further appearances at the operas of Geneva and Rome, at the Teatro Liceo Barcelona and at the National Opera of Warsaw. In 1983 she sang for the first time at the Opera of Chicago, as Fricka in a concertant performance of the Walküre. In 1990 she was heard at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein and at the State Opera of Hamburg as Brünnhilde in Walküre, in Tokyo as Isolde, in 1992 at the Opéra Bastille Paris and at the opera of Antwerp as Elektra in the opera of same name of Richard Strauss, in 1993 in Amsterdam as Ortrud. In 1993 she sang in Santiago de Chile, 1994 at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, and in 1996 at the State Opera of Vienna as Turandot in the Puccini opera of the same name. In 1994 she made guest appearance at Milanís La Scala as Elektra of R. Strauss and as Brünnhilde in the Walküre; In 1995 she sang at the State Opera of Vienna the Brünnhilde in the entire Der Ring des Nibelungen, at the opera of Cologne again as Elektra, in 1996 in Amsterdam as Färberin in Frau ohne Schatten by R. Strauss. In 1996 she sang very successful in her first role at New Yorkís Metropolitan Opera the Brünnhilde in Walküre, in the same year at the Teatro Comunale Bologna as Isolde in Tristan. More roles from her were Octavian in the Rosenkavalier, Sesto in Titus by Mozart, Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Federica in Verdiís Luisa Miller and the Brangäne in Tristan, later also Carmen, Leonore in Fidelio, Kundry in Parsifal and Marie in A. Bergís Wozzeck.
Gabriele Schnaut had also very successful career as a concert singer (oratorios and Lieder).
Recordings: In the complete recording of Der Ring des Nibelungen on Philips she sings the Waltraute in Walküre and the second Norn in Götterdämmerung. She sang on CBS in the Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244) of J.S. Bach and in Cardillac by Paul Hindemith, on Wergo in Sancta Susanna by P. Hindemith, in Die Hamletmaschine by W. Rihm and in Lieder of P. Hindemith. Further recordings on Capriccio (complete recording of Die Hamletmaschine), on Decca (Leonore in Fidelio) and on Chandos (Oedipus Rex by Igor Stravinsky).