The Austrian bass-baritone, Josef Wagner, began his musical training 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 Professor Wicus Slabbert.
After his stage debut as Don Alfonso in W.A. Mozart's Così fan tutte and Dulcamara in Elisir d’amore, Josef Wagner became a member of the ensemble of the Vienna Volksoper in 2002. There he expanded his repertoire considerably and sang a.o. Figaro in W.A. Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, Papageno in W.A. Mozart's Die Zauberflöte and recently with sensational success the title role in the Achim Freyer production of W.A. Mozart's Don Giovanni. He still feels closely connected to this house.
In summer 2006, Josef Wagner gave his debut at the Salzburg Festival as Don Cassandro in La Finta Semplice. Since then he has been working as a freelance singer, performing e.g. Konrad Nachtigall in Die Meisteringer von Nürnberg at Geneva Opera, Guglielmo at Opera Ireland and Papageno at Hyogo Performing Arts Center in Japan. Further engagements included appearances as Herkules in Anton Schweitzer’s Alceste with Concerto Köln under the baton of Michael Hofstetter; Lord Sidney in Viaggio a Reims at Israeli Opera, Nick Shadow in Igor Stravinsky's The Rake’s Progress at Opera Nantes, Frank in Fledermaus at Geneva Opera, Escamillo with Bavarian Radio Orchestra and in Tel Aviv, Eduard in Neues vom Tage by Paul Hindemith and Pantalone in Turandot by Ferruccio Busoni at Dijon Opera, as well as Leporello and Publio in W.A. Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito in Marseille. He is also regularly guest at Opera Vlaanderen where he sang Don Alfonso, Ercole/Giove in Cavalli’s Giasone, Assur (Semiramide) with Alberto Zedda conducting, Fra Melitone in La Forza del destino and the title role in Don Giovanni. At Deutsche Oper Berlin he participated in a concert version of Le Vaisseau Fantôme (by Pierre-Louis Dietsch). With great success he sang Jochanaan at Royal Opera Stockholm by Nina Stemme’s side, Papageno at the Festival Aix-en-Provence as well as Golaud in Pelléas et Mélisande at Deutsche Oper Berlin.
Further projects include Figaro with Canadian Opera Company Toronto, the Ruler in The Miracle of Heliane at Deutsche Oper Berlin, Guglielmo at Marseille Opera. He will return to Volksoper Vienna with The Tales of Hoffmann and in the title role of Don Giovanni, and to Opera Vlaanderen as Papageno. He will sing the role of the Musiklehrer in Ariadne auf Naxos at Opera Nancy and at the Festival of Aix-en-Provence and give his role debut as Eugene Onegin in Helsinki.
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 e.g. at Wiener Musikverein, Wiener Konzerthaus and the Festival of Ludwigsburg (Ludwigsburger Festspiele). He also often appears as a Lied singer, Die Winterreise and Die schöne Müllerin belonging to his favourite repertoire.