This noted mezzo soprano first began as a student of the flute in Detmold and then took up the study of voice in Hamburg with Judith Beckmann and attended master classes with Christa Ludwig and Hermann Prey.
In 1986, Iris Vermillion won the first prize at the Bundeswettbewerb Gesang (German Song Competition) held in Berlin. She was then engaged at the
Staatstheater Braunschweig for two years, where she sang the roles of Sesto in Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito, Dorabella in Mozart's Così fan tutte, Octavian in Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, and Charlotte in Massenet's Werther. In 1988, she appeared at the Deutsche Oper Berlin where she created the roles of Cherubino in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Muse and Niklaus in Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffman, and the title role in Graun's Montezuma, and had particular successes singing in Handel's Semele and in a concert presentation of the Berlioz opera Romeo et Juliette in Paris. She has been a frequently requested guest at the great opera houses of the world and has worked with such notable conductors as Georg Solti, Daniel Barenboim, Claudio Abbado, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Riccardo Chailly, and René Jacobs.