The mezzo-soprano Hedwig Fassbender studied the piano at the Cologne Musikhochschule and singing with Ernst Haefliger at the Munich Musikhochschule. As a student she was a prize-winner in the Würzburg Mozart Competition, the Vienna Hugo Wolf Competition, and the Federal, Young Concert Artist Competition, and was awarded the Munich Abendzeitung Music Prize. She began her singing career with a five-year engagement in Freiburg and Basel, a period during which she undertook the most important lyric mezzo-soprano rôles, including Cherubino, Hänsel, Octavian, Idamante, Dorabella, and Nicklausse.
Since 1987 she has worked independently, appearing as a guest in many international productions, including Nicklausse in Barcelona, at the Paris Bastille, in Lyons and at the Vienna Volksoper, Idamante in Hamburg, Hermia in Berlin, Marguerite in La damnation de Faust in Amsterdam, followed by rôles including Carmen, Fricka, Mescalina, Baba the Turk, Judith in Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle, and Mère Marie in Poulenc’s Dialogues des carmélites. She sang her first Isolde at the Saarbrücken State Theatre in 2001, to public and press acclaim. Later rôles have included those of Marie in Wozzeck at La Scala, the Foreign Princess in Rusalka in Lyons and Paris, the Marschallin in Lyons, Kundry in Oslo and Mannheim, Kostelniãka in Jenůfa at the newly opened theatre in Erfurt, at the Berlin Komische Oper and in Monte Carlo, Ariane in Ariane et Barbe-bleue by Dukas in Ghent/Antwerp and Nice, with Isolde in Mannheim and Montpellier. She has appeared under conductors including Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Chailly, Adam and Ivan Fischer, Kyrill Petrenko, Michail and Vladimir Jurowski, and Armin Jordan, and with directors including Herbert Wernicke, Robert Carsen and Willy Decker.
For her interpretation of Sieglinde in the new Ring Cycle in Liège in 2003 she was named Singer of the Year. Hedwig Fassbender is also an acclaimed Lieder singer. Hilko Dumno has been her partner at the piano for some years. Her recordings include Isolde in Tristan und Isolde (Naxos 8.660152-54).