In 1979 Barbara Bonney became a member of the Darmstadt Opera, where she made her first appearance as Anna in . Among her subsequent roles were Blondchen, Adina, Cherubino, Gilda, Massenet’s Manon, and Natalie in Henze’s . 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 London’s Covent Garden as Sophie. In 1985 she made her debut at Milan’s La Scala as Pamina. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in New York in March 1988 as Najade in , 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.
He was an honorary member of both the Royal Academy and the Guildhall School of Music, and a fellow of the Royal College of Music, where he was Prince Consort Professor of piano accompaniment. In addition, he was an Officer of the Order of Australia and the Order of the British Empire, and in 1992 received the Royal Philharmonic Society's Instrumentalist of the Year Award. Many of his numerous recordings also won awards. At the time of his death in 1995 he had become a genial godfather to a new generation of superstar vocalists, including Olaf Bär, Thomas Hampson, and Barbara Bonney. He was also in demand as a teacher, and his master classes were avidly attended.