Vanessa Barkowski, born in Detmold/Germany, studied with Gerhild Romberger at the Hochschule für Musik in her home town. In 1998 she studied with Professor Judith Beckmann at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg. In 2004 she received her concert diploma at the Universität der Künste Berlin (Kammersängerin Ute Trekel-Burckhardt). Master classes with Kurt Moll, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, and Ingeborg Danz completed her training. She was finalist and prize winner of several renowned competitions like the Bundeswettbewerb Gesang and the International Competition of the Kammeroper Rheinsberg. Furthermore, she was awarded with special scholarships by organisations like the Oscar und Vera Ritter-Stiftung Hamburg, the DOMS-Stiftung Zurich and the Kaminsky-Stiftung Munich. In 2005 Vanessa Barkowski was awarded a prize by the city of Berlin for 'promising young talents'.
Vanessa Barkowski performed at the Komische Oper Berlin, Oper Frankfurt, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Bayerische Staatsoper München, Opera de Bastille in Paris, as well as at the Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg, Lincoln Center Festival, Biennale München and at the Schwetzinger Festspiele. The mezzo-soprano worked with conductors such as Ivor Bolton, Sylvain Cambreling, Michael Hofstetter, Vladimir Jurowski, Helmuth Rilling, Bruno Weil.
Her operatic repertoire includes Dorabella/Così fan tutte, Dryade/Ariadne auf Naxos, Dido/Dido and Aeneas, Olga/Eugen Onegin, Meg Page/Falstaff, Hänsel/Hänsel und Gretel, Frau Reich/Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor, Suzuki/Madama Butterfly, Fatime/Oberon, Floßhilde/Das Rheingold, 3rd Lady/Die Zauberflöte, and Lady in waiting/The Dwarft. Vanessa Barkowski´s concert repertoire includes Stabat Mater by Dvorak, Pergolesi as well as Rossini, Beethoven´s Symphony N° 9, Handel´s Messiah, Haydn´s Nelson-Mass, Mendelssohn´s Elias, Mozart´s Requiem, and Rossini´s Petite messe solenelle. As a recitalist Vanessa Barkowski often works with Cord Garben.