This internationally acclaimed soprano is noted for interpretations of roles in operas by Mozart and Strauss and for her singing of operetta. Her initial studies took place in Mannheim at the Musikhochschule. In 1943, she made her debut in Koblenz. From 1946 until 1972, she was a member of the Hamburg State Opera. Her first performance in Britain was in 1952 with the Hamburg State Opera's production of Paul Hindemith's Mathis der Maler. In 1954, she sang at the Salzburg Festival in the role of Telemachos in Rolf Liebermann's Penelope. In 1957, she debuted in Vienna and in 1959 sang Sophie in Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier. In 1960, she interpreted the role of Zdenka in Strauss' Arabella at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and in 1967 in Zurich she created the title role in Madame Bovary by Heinrich Sutermeister (1910-1995). Rothenberger retired from public performances in 1983.