Born in Braga (Portugal), she studied singing and violin at the local conservatory, then graduated at the Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon. She concluded her studies at the Madrid School of Singing under Marimì del Pozo and Felix Lavilla, and then specialized under Angeles Chamorro and Enza Ferrari. She has won various prizes including the "Arts et Culture" prize during the Paris Singing Competition, the third "Julián Gayarre" competition, second prize at the "Belvedere" Vienna Singing Competition and the special prize awarded by the "Fundación Gulbenkian". She began her career performing Pamina in Die Zauberflöte with the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra and the Contessa in Le Nozze di Figaro in Cordoba, Jerez and Granada.
The success of these debuts led Elisabete Matos to sing at the leading opera theatres throughout the world - she made her debut in Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni at the Hamburg Staatsoper, Marigaila in Divinas Palabras at the Madrid Teatro Real alongside Placido Domingo; Los Gavilanes at the Madrid Teatro Real conducted by Frühbeck de Burgos; Elvira in Don Giovanni at the Teatro Sao Carlos, Lisbon and Dolly in Sly by Wolf Ferrari in Washington alongside Josè Carreras to enormous acclaim from audiences and critics alike. She went on to play the same role in the same production at the Teatro Regio, Turin and the Nice Theatre. Here she also sang the demanding role of Zaza by Leoncavallo alongside Leo Nucci. She sang Ximena in El Cid by Massenet at Seville and Washington alongside Placido Domingo; the leading role in Margarita La Tornera at Madrid's Teatro Real; Elsa in Lohengrin at the Teatro Liceu, Barcelona, and Anna in Le Villi at the Valencia Puccini Festival. Subsequently she made her debut in the role of Elisabetta in Don Carlos in Madrid and Amelia in Simon Boccanegra at the Teatro Bellini Catania, before returning to Turin with Freia in Das Rheingold conducted by Semyon Bychkov and making her debut at the Teatro Massimo, Palermo, with Davide Re (composed by Alberico Vitalini, world première).
During the summer of 2001 she performed for the first time at the Macerata Festival, as Tosca. Again in 2001, she took part in a concert in Parma to mark the centenary of Verdi alongside Placido Domingo, José Carreras, Josè Cura, Leo Nucci, Daniela Dessì, Barbara Frittoli and numerous other great names from opera, conducted by Zubin Mehta. Also in 2001 she sang in La Battaglia di Legnano at the Teatro Bellini, Catania. In 2002, she made her successful debut in Katia Kabanova and La Voix Humaine at the Gran Teatre del Liceo in Barcelona and La Vida Breve at the Teatro Sao Carlos, Lisbon, her debut at the Teatro La Fenice Venice, with Tosca, took part in the Washington Opera tour to Tokyo with Sly (alongside José Carreras), performed Amelia in Simon Boccanegra at the Teatro Real, Madrid and made her debut as Sieglinde in Die Walküre at the Teatro Maestranza, Seville.
Her 2003 commitments include a production of Der Fliegende Holländer at the Teatro San Carlo, Naples, Sly at the Rome Teatro dell'Opera (alongside Placido Domingo), Freia in Rheingold and Sieglinde in Die Walküre at the Gran Teatre del Liceo. In 2004 she will make her debut at La Scala in Milan in Les Dialogues des Carmelites as Mme. Lidoine conducted by Riccardo Muti and will sing Gutrune in Die Götterdämmerung at the Liceo in Barcelona, La Dolores at the Teatro Real in Madrid, Le Villi at the Liceo in Barcelona and with the new Opera Gaudi alongside Placido Domingo and Juan Pons.
She has recorded Suppé's Requiem with the chorus and orchestra of the Gulbenkian Foundation of Lisbon conducted by Michael Corboz, and the opera La Dolores by Bretón conducted by Antoni Ros Marbà for Decca.