After winning the International Mozart Competition of the Vienna State Opera in 1991, she received invitations for concert and recital appearances, most notably an all-Mozart recital on the stage of La Scala.
She also made a recital recording with EMI Classics of Mozart arias that was an extraordinary success.
She has made a specialty of Bellini and Donizetti heroines, excelling in roles both comic (La Fille du Regiment) and tragic (Lucia).
Her performances in those roles were featured in Live from the Met Simulcasts in 20, respectively.
Quickly engaged by major opera houses around the world, she sang Blondchen in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Madame Herz in Der Schauspieldirektor, the title role in Zaïde, Adele in Die Fledermaus, and Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos.
In 1992, Dessay debuted as Olympia in Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann, and in 1993, she sang at the opening of the New Lyon Opéra.Her latest released album, Clair de Lune/i, contains melodies by Debussy with Philippe Cassard at the piano.On 2012 fall, Haendel's Jules César at the Opera de Paris under the baton of Emmanuelle Haim is published by DVD.In 1992 she sang her first Olympia in Offenbach’s Contes d’Hoffmann at Paris’s Opéra Bastille in a staging by Roman Polanski.The next year she was invited to the Vienna Staatsoper to sing Blondchen (Die Entführung aus dem Serail).More firsts follow in 2009 with Violetta in the summer in Santa Fe and Musetta at the Opéra de Paris in the autumn.Paris will also mount a new production of La Sonnambula for her in 2010.In 2017, Dessay released Pictures of America, her first English-language album, featuring a program of selections from the Great American Songbook.With a background primarily in the French baroque, William Christie comes to Die Zauberflote from an angle quite unlike anyone else’s; yet nobody need be put off for this is as idiomatic and as deeply Mozartian a reading of the work as any in the catalogue.Other releases include Offenbach's Orphée and a Mozart aria disc on Virgin.She has recorded both the original French and Italian versions of Lucia di Lammermoor.