The musical training of the bass baritone Josef Wagner, born in Niederösterreich (Lower Austria), began in a boys choir, and with violin and piano lessons. After deciding for a career in voice, he studied at the University for Music and the Performing Arts in Vienna with Kurt Equiluz and Robert Holl. He has received important artistic incentives in master classes of Paul Esswood, Walter Berry and Christa Ludwig. His present teacher is Prof. Wicus Slabbert.
After his stage debut as Don Alfonso (Così fan tutte) and Dulcamara (Elisir d’amore) he became a member of the ensemble of the Viennese Volksoper in 2002. Here until 2005 he expanded his repertoire with parts such as Publio (Clemenza di Tito), Masetto (Don Giovanni), Alidoro (Cenerentola), Philebos (König Kandaules by Zemlinsky) and Colline (La Bohème). In addition he gave guest performances in the title roles of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro at the Salzburg Landestheater, as Guglielmo (Così fan tutte) at the Festival Mozart in Reinsberg, as Lord Sidney (Viaggio a Reims) and Fra Melitone (La Forza del Destino) at the Stadttheater Bern.
In the summer of 2006, Josef Wagner gave his debut at the Salzburg Festival as Don Cassandro (La Finta Semplice). During the season 2006⁄07 he sang Figaro at the Viennese Volksoper and on a tour in Holland, Nachtigall (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg) and Frank in Die Fledermaus at the Geneva Opera, Guglielmo at the Opera Ireland and Papageno at Hyogo Performing Arts Center in Japan. In 2007⁄08 he performed with the Concerto Cologne under the conductorship of Michael Hofstetter as Herkules in Anton Schweitzer’s Alceste, at the Israeli Opera as Lord Sidney, at the Opéra de Nantes as Nick Shadow (The Rake’s Progress), with the Het Gelders Orkest in Holland as Don Giovanni, Eduard (in Hindemith’s Neues vom Tage) and Don Giovanni at the Opéra de Dijon, Leporello and Publio at the Opéra de Marseille, Papageno at the Viennese Volksoper, as well as Assur (Semiramide), Viaggio à Reims (under conductorship of M° Alberto Zedda), Fra Melitone in La Forza del Destino and Papageno at the Vlaamse Opera Antwerp.
He made his debut at the Deutsche Oper Berlin with Le Vaisseau Fantôme (by Pierre-Louis Dietsch) in concert version, as Jochanaan at Royal Opera Stockholm and as Papageno at the Festival Aix-en-Provence.
His projects include Don Giovanni and Papageno in Antwerp, Don Giovanni and Guglielmo at the Volksoper Vienna, Guglielmo in Marseille, Musiklehrer (Ariadne auf Naxos) in Nancy, Golaud (Pelléas et Mélisande) at Deutsche Oper Berlin and Figaro with Canadian Opera Company Toronto.
Josef Wagner is also greatly in demand as a concert singer, whose repertoire ranges from Baroque to contemporary pieces. He has performed under the conductors Ton Koopman, Dennis Russel Davies and Nikolaus Harnoncourt also at the Viennese Musikverein and at the Wiener Konzerthaus. He has sung Frank Martin’s Der Sturm at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and Die Schöpfung and Der Messias with the Orchestra of the Vlaamse Opera. Among his projects are several recital concerts (a.o. Winterreise).