In 1964, Donat debuted in Poznań, as Gilda in Rigoletto, and later appeared in many international opera houses, including those in Toulouse, Helsinki, Warsaw, Moscow, Munich, Buenos Aires, Milan (the Teatro alla Scala, where she sang in L'enfant et les sortilèges), Rome, Prague, Naples, Brussels, Vienna (from 1974 to 1979, in Lucia di Lammermoor and the Queen of Night in Die Zauberflöte), Salzburg, Berlin, Hamburg, London (the Queen of Night at Covent Garden, from 1979 to 1983), Paris, Verona ("Opera for Africa," 1985), Orange, and Japan.
Donat made her American debut in 1975, at the San Francisco Opera, as the Queen of Night, opposite Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Alan Titus. In 1981, she made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in the same role, with Lucia Popp as Pamina. She returned to that theatre in 1987, for Constanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, in John Dexter's production.
In 1980, she recorded, for RCA, her famed Queen of Night, with Ileana Cotrubaș, Éric Tappy, Christian Boesch, José van Dam, and Martti Talvela, conducted by James Levine. In 1989, Donat appeared in a film version of Der Schauspieldirektor.
Also in the Kammersängerin's repertoire are roles in Don Pasquale, Il barbiere di Siviglia, La sonnambula, I puritani, La traviata, Falstaff, Un ballo in maschera, Les contes d'Hoffmann, Siegfried (as the Woodbird), Le coq d'or, I Capuleti e i Montecchi, and King Roger.
As of 2009, Mme Zdzisława Donat-Pajda is Professor Emeritus at the Frédéric Chopin University of Music.
- Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Talvela; Bertini, G.Rennert, 1976) [live] Arthaus Musik
- "Die Zauberflöte für Kinder" (Cotrubaş, Sieber, Schreier, Boesch, Rydl; Levine, Ponnelle, 1982) [live] TDK
- Liner notes to Die Zauberflöte, RCA, 1981.
- Zdzisława Donat in an excerpt from Die Zauberflöte (1982).
- The Essential Zdzisława Donat .