Before "Gato," he directed Domingo in Puccini's "La Fanciulla del West" in Madrid, finding the tenor "a big pleasure to work with because he always listens to you, and is very eager to do all the things you want on the stage."
To Sagi, the greatest difficulties in staging "El Gato Montes" involve conveying the atmosphere of Andalusia and also "finding a balance between the real and the non-real," specifically the naturalism of the early scenes versus the stylization demanded later on. "You can't show the public in a naturalistic way all the things that Penella asks you (in the final scenes)," he said. "You must try to catch very strong images to be as powerful as the music."
Spanish-speaking opera enthusiasts will notice that the Andalusian atmosphere is expressed partly through language--the distinctive elisions and shifts in pronunciation of that region--along with what Domingo calls "the turns in the voice that come from the flamenco, and that reveal a Moorish influence." Like Sagi, he is concerned with the difference between the early scenes of the work and the ending. "I would have developed the last act a different way," he said. "I would have made it a little more important, a little longer. But in many zarzuelas, the first act is strong and then perhaps it grows weaker.