Vienna-born Elisabeth Sobotka studied musicology, theatre studies, communication studies and business studies at the University of Vienna, where she wrote her master's thesis on the composer and conductor Franco Faccio. She completed a course in cultural management at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna and during her studies she worked at the Salzburg Festival in concert management and artistic administration. In the 1990/91 season she worked in artistic administration at Jeunesse – Musikalische Jugend Österreichs in Vienna, before moving to Leipzig Opera in 1992 and becoming head of production management. In the years 1994 to 2002 she was chief stage and personnel manager at Vienna State Opera. From 2002 until the end of 2007 she held the post of director of opera at Berlin State Opera Unter den Linden. Since September 2009 she has been executive artistic director of Graz Opera. Since January 2015 she is artistic director of the Bregenz Festival.