The main focus of Marlis Petersen's repertoire is the field of classical coloratura, however, she has also made a name for herself as an interpreter of contemporary music. After studying at the Conservatory in Stuttgart and with Sylvia Geszty, she supplemented her training in the areas of opera, new music, and dance. She began her career as a member of the ensemble of the City Stage of Nuremberg, where she sang parts such as Ännchen (Der Freischütz), Blonde (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Adele (Die Fledermaus), Oscar (Un ballo in maschera), Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia), the title role of Lulu, and Königin der Nacht (Die Zauberflöte). Guest performances have taken Marlis Petersen to the opera houses of Berlin, Bremen, Düsseldorf, Hanover, Munich, and Frankfurt. At the beginning of the 1998-1999 season she was engaged by the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, where she debuted as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro and sang in Donizetti's The Daughter of the Regiment, Der Rosenkavalier (Sophie), Don Pasquale (Norina), The Cunning Vixen, Manfred Trojahn's As You Like It (Viola), Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Constanze), and Ambroise Thomas's Hamlet (Ophélie).