John Fisher was born in Glasgow in 1950. He was educated at Glasgow University, the Royal Academy of Music and at the London Opera Centre.
He started his operatic career at Welsh National Opera in 1972 as music director of the company's Opera For All project. From 1973-75 he worked at La Monnaie, Brussels, on the music staff and as music director of the Opera Studio.
Between 1975 and 1977 he was a member of the Music Staff at De Nederlandse Operastichting, Amsterdam. In 1977 he was appointed head of music staff at La Scala, Milan, and became the company's artistic administrator in 1981, a position he held until 1988.
In 1989 he was appointed artistic director of La Fenice, Venice, the first non-Italian to be appointed to that position in any of the state-funded Italian opera houses. From 1983 to 1988 he was also an artistic/musical consultant for Festival Rossini, Pesaro.
From 1994 to 1997 John Fisher was director of opera and vocal productions and executive producer at Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft in Hamburg.
In 1997 he became director of music administration at Metropolitan Opera, New York and from May 2006 to December 2010 was general director of Welsh National Opera.
In addition, John has worked extensively with Decca records and with Unitel films, collaborating with Jean-Pierre Ponnelle on several opera films.