Was born and grew up in Leningrad. Graduated from the Leningrad Conservatoire in 1965 (solo vocals class of Iraida Timonova-Levando). As a student at the conservatoire she won the 2nd prize at the All-Union Glinka Vocalists Competition in Moscow (1962), following which she was invited to join the Kirov Theatre. Made her debut there in 1964, performing the role of Polina in the opera The Queen of Spades. Following her victory at the Rio de Janeiro Vocalists Competition (1967) she trained at La Scala, where she studied under the acclaimed teacher and mentor Gennaro Barra-Caracciolo. In 1969 she made her debut in Milan at the Teatro alla Scala in the opera Un ballo in maschera (Ulrica).
At the Mariinsky Theatre, Irina Bogacheva has performed around thirty roles, including Carmen in Bizet's eponymous opera, Amneris in Aida, Lyubasha in The Tsar's Bride, Marfa in Khovanshchina, Azucena in Il trovatore, Charlotte in Werther and Marina Mniszech in Boris Godunov.
First performer of Shostakovich's Six Poems of Maria Tsvetaeva (1973). People's Artist of the USSR (1976), recipient of the State Prize of the USSR (1984), recipient of the orders For Services to the Fatherland (4th and 3rd classes), the Order of Friendship of the Peoples, recipient of the Golden Mask (2017, "For an Outstanding Contribution to the Development of Theatre") and the Golden Sofit (1995, 2012).
Since 1980 she has taught at the Leningrad Conservatoire (Professor since 1982), and is currently Head of the Department for vocal singing. Irina Bogacheva's students include Mariinsky Opera soloists Olga Borodina, Olga Savova, Elena Vitman and Natalia Yevstafieva. On the singer's initiative, the conservatory founded the international opera singers competition St Petersburg.
She will be appearing as the Countess in The Queen of Spades, Grandma in The Gambler and Akhrosimova in War and Peace.