Franz-Josef Selig

Franz-Josef Selig


• Born 1962


The operatic bass Franz-Josef Selig has been a mainstay of the German operatic scene. As his voice has matured, he has increasingly often focused on the operas of Wagner.

Selig was born in Mayen, a small town in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, on July 11, 1962. He had the ambition to become a church musician and entered the Musikhochschule Köln with that goal in mind. After earning his degree, however, he began studying voice at the university with Claudio Nicolai. He made rapid progress and was already giving concerts during his student program; he was also accepted in 1989, still a student, as a company member at the Aalto-Theater, the opera house of the city of Essen. Remaining there until 1995, Selig made guest appearances at increasingly prominent houses around Europe and beyond, including the Vienna State Opera, La Scala in Milan, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In 1992 he won the Aalto Stage Prize for Young Artists. After leaving the Aalto-Theater, he began a successful freelance career that included appearances around Europe and North America including return visits to the Mozart House at Austria's Salzburg Festival. The role of Sarastro in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, K. 620, was a common one for Selig during the first part of his career; he also favored bass roles such as Rocco in Beethoven's Fidelio, and Osmin in Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail. His repertory also included Wagnerian roles such as Marke in Tristan und Isolde and Gurnemand in Parsifal. Wagner has come to the fore in Selig's performance schedule as his voice has deepened. In 2012 he appeared for the first time at the Bayreuth Festival, as Daland in Der fliegende Holländer, and he soon added Hunding in Die Walküre to his repertory there. Selig has performed enthusiastically as a song recitalist with pianist Gerold Huber, and, more unusually, in the Liedertafel part song repertory. With Markus Schäfer, Christian Elsner, and Michael Volle, he released an album of this music, entitled Liedertafel, in 2004; the genre has not often been recorded. Selig has appeared on various operatic recording as well as, in 2013, a recording of Mozart's Coronation Mass, K. 317, with the Cologne Chamber Choir on the EMI label. He was also heard in recordings of the Bach St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244, and St. John Passion, BWV 245, with the Collegium Vocale Gent under Philippe Herreweghe, and, in 2019, as Sarastro in a new Die Zauberflöte with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe under Yannick Nézet-Séguin.