Anne Schwanewilms debuted as Gutrune in Gotterdammerung, for the 1996 Bayreuth Festival Ring, and she quickly came to specialise in the German Romantic soprano repertory, stunning English audiences at Glyndebourne in the title role of Weber's Euryanthe (2002) and, under Simon Rattle, as Elettra in Idomeneo (2003). She was a thrilling Senta in Wagner's Fliegende Holländer and other successes included Sieglinde and Leonore (Fidelio).
In 2002 she was named Singer of the Year by the prestigious German magazine, Opernwelt. Around this time, the voice was becoming lighter, and she decided to give up roles like Senta, Leonore and Sieglinde, and concentrate on the lyrical heroines of Strauss, one of whom, Chrysothemis in Elektra, she had already performed with success at Covent Garden and La Scala. She sang in Strauss's late comedy, Die Liebe der Danae, in Dresden in 2005, where she reprised the role in March 2009, and her first Marschallin was received with huge acclaim at the Lyric Opera, Chicago, in January 2006. Further performances of the Marschallin will take place in Amsterdam, Madrid, Sao Paolo, Milan and Dresden. A DVD of the Dresden Der Rosenkavalier filmed on tour in Japan has now been released and BBC Magazine called her Marschallin 'one of the most consummate operatic performances I have ever seen.' She added Arabella to her repertory in January 2009 in a new production in Frankfurt to great public and critical acclaim, and has begun a long term exploration of the huge, rich repertory of Strauss songs, both with piano and orchestra. Her performance as Arabella was nominated for the highly prestigious German theatre award, Der Faust.
The voice remained as dramatic as ever. Anne still loves to sing Strauss's Ariadne (Covent Garden, 2004; Madrid, 2006), Verdi's Desdemona, Elisabeth in Tannhäuser and Elsa in Lohengrin. She has been a spectacular star in the recent revival of early 20th century operas by Franz Schreker: Der Ferne Klang (Berlin, 2001) and Die Gezeichneten (Salzburg Festival, 2005). She made her American debut as Marie in Wozzeck at Santa Fe (2001), going on to sing Beethoven's Leonore in Dallas (2002) and the Verdi Requiem in New York (2005) before her triumph in Chicago. She will add Roxane in Szymanowski's King Roger in Barcelona in November 2009, return to Desdemona in London in December 2009 with concert performances with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Colin Davis, and return to Chicago in February 2010 to sing the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro.