After studying philosophy and literature in Oviedo, the Spanish director Emilio Sagi continued his education in musicology at the University of London. In 1980 he made his debut with Verdi's "La traviata" in his home town of Oviedo, followed by Donizetti's "Don Pasquale" at the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid in 1982. This successful production was followed by numerous other invitations before he became artistic director of the Teatro de la Zarzuela from 1990 to 1999. From 2001 to 2005 he was Artistic Director of the Teatro Real in Madrid. In 2008 he took over this position at the Teatro Arriaga Antzokia in Bilbao. Emilio Sagi regularly directs at all major opera houses and festivals worldwide, including the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Teatro La Fenice in Venice, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia, as well as the opera houses of Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona, Geneva, Lisbon, Monte Carlo, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston and Santiago de Chile. He was awarded the Premio Lírico Teatro Campoamor in 2006 for his direction of Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Madrid Opera House. In 2010, the Premios Ópera Actual prize followed and in 2020 he was awarded the state Bellas Artes Gold Medal in Spain.
Emilio Sagi staged Donizetti's "La Fille du régiment" at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein.