She studied with Erika Müller, took up her first engagement in Koblenz in 1943, before Günther Rennert offered her a job at the Hamburg Opera House 1947, where she sang in Rennert's now famous production of Alban Berg's Lulu twenty years later, a role she would also perform at the Munich Opera Festival, under the direction of Christoph von Dohnanyi. 1954 saw her make her debut at the Salzburg Festival, and she appeared in Rolf Liebermann's Schule der Frauen, three years later. From 1954 she became a guest singer at the Vienna State Opera. New York audience had their first chance to hear the soprano's fine voice in 1960, when she sang there in Der Rosenkavalier. Her performance prompted Lotte Lehmann to call her 'the best Sophie in the world'. Herbert von Karajan chose her to appear alongside Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Sena Jurinac for the filmed performance of Der Rosenkavalier at the Salzburg Festival.
If she favoured light and high-register lyric parts in the beginning of her career, by the mid-1960s she changed to roles with a stronger dramatic emphasis, including Konstanze (in Mozart's Entführung aus dem Serail - Abduction from the Seraglio), Fiordiligi (in Cosi fan tutte), Zdenka (in Richard Strauss' Arabella) Marie (in Berg's Wozzeck) Soeur Constance (in Poulenc's Les Dialogues des Carmélites) or Violetta in (La Traviata) on stage. She also appeared in many contemporary operas by Henze, Britten, Hindemith, Carl Orff, Pfitzner, or Menotti. She was also a committed singer of Lieder.
In the 70's she became a very popular TV entertainer. She retired in from the stage in 1983. When her husband died after 45 years of marriage in 1999, she settled on Lake Constance in Switzerland. In 2003, she received the Echo Award for lifetime achievement. She wrote an autobiography in 1973: Melodie meines Lebens.
A large number of complete recordings and highlights discs bear witness to her opera work: (Die Zauberflöte , Don Giovanni, Idomeneo, Arabella, Die Fledermaus, Orfeo ed Euridice, Hänsel und Gretel, The Merry Widow, La Bohème, La Traviata, or Martha, and a much-celebrated Die Hochzeit des Figaro). Her partners on stage and on records included, among many others, Lisa della Casa, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Fritz Wunderlich, Irmgard Seefried, Nicolai Gedda, Peter Schreier, Walter Berry, and Rudolf Schock.
Rothenberger, Anneliese by Harold Rosenthal, in 'The New Grove Dictionary of Opera', ed. Stanley Sadie (London, 1992) ISBN 0-333-73432-7