She began music by studying violin and entered the Royal College of Music to continue those studies. While there, however, she got turned round into vocal studies with Madame Vera Rozsa and began to build up a widely varied repertory, which is now immense, and ranges from Bach
and earlier Baroque composers to Birtwistle
, Berio, Cage
, and Henze
Her operatic debut was at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera
as Diana and Giove in Cavalli's La Calisto. Her debut role at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden was Charlotte in Massenet
's Werther opposite the Alfredo Kraus. She was introduced to the audience of the Metropolitan in New York as Micah in Handel
's Samson, with Jon Vickers
as the Biblical muscle-man. She has sung at the operas of San Francisco, Lisbon, Chicago, Madrid, Paris, Geneva, Hamburg, Brussels, and many other cities.
She has over sixty roles in her active repertory. These cover three centuries of opera from Monteverdi
's L'Incoronazione di Poppea and Il Ritorno to Maxwell Davies
' Taverner and Sallinen
's The King Goes Forth to France. One of her longest operatic associations is with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. There she has sung Baba the Turk in The Rake's Progress, Mrs. Sedley in Peter Grimes, the Sallinen
and Maxwell Davies
operas already mentioned, Handel
's Samson, Mozart
's Marriage of Figaro, and Filipievna in Tchaikovsky
's Eugene Onegin. With the English National Opera, she has appeared as Mary Stuart, Charlotte, the Countess in Queen of Spades, as Queen Elizabeth in Britten
's Gloriana, Katisha in The Mikado, and Cornelia in Julius Caesar.
Walker has recorded, concertized, and sung in recital extensively, appearing at all the major venues including London's Wigmore Hall and on major tours of the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and all the major European cities. She shares the insights gained in her professional career with numerous master classes, and admits to being somewhat obsessive in her hobbies and interests: She has over 300 pairs of earrings, collections of nineteenth century blue and white pottery, eighteenth century Liverpool porcelain, and modern British watercolors. A decision to learn Japanese led her into the collection of books, prints, and anything else connected with Kabuki theater, and Walker has admitted harboring a wish to sing Schubert
's Winterreise in a kabuki staging. Walker's husband has stated that she should add her laptop computer and the Internet to the official list of her obsessions.