The dynamic mezzo-soprano Tatiana Troyanos was born into a singing family; her Greek father was a tenor, and her German mother a soprano. Born in New York, Troyanos studied at the Juilliard School with Hans J. Heinz, while singing occasionally in the New York area (she was a member of the original chorus for the Broadway production of The Sound of Music). In April 1963 she made her operatic debut with the New York City Opera, in the New York premiere of Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream. She remained with the City Opera for two years.
Julius Rudel, then musical director of the City Opera, helped Troyanos get a Rockefeller Foundation scholarship to allow her to travel to Europe. She signed on with the Hamburg State Opera, making her debut with that company as Suzuki in Madame Butterfly in 1966. Later that same year she played the Composer in Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos, a role she continued to sing frequently. Troyanos remained with the Hamburg Opera for a decade, while also making frequent appearances worldwide. She made her Covent Garden debut in 1968 as Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, another role she repeated often. Some international attention came her way in 1969 when she sang in the world premiere of Penderecki's opera The Devils of Loudun.
In the 1970s and 1980s she continued to expand her repertoire. She sang the title role in Handel's Ariodante in the 1971 inaugural performance at Washington D.C.'s Kennedy Center, and made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1976. She took on bel canto roles in works by the likes of Donizetti and Bellini, and began performing regularly in Wagner's music dramas. Dramatic roles such as Dido in Berlioz's Les Troyens and Countess Geschwitz in Berg's Lulu also became staples in her performing schedule. In 1992 she created the role of Queen Isabella in Philip Glass' The Voyage.
Over the years she made many significant recordings, including a renowned Carmen under Sir Georg Solti's direction, as well as Leonard Bernstein's 1987 re-recording of his own West Side Story. Troyanos was diagnosed with cancer in July 1993, and died a month later.