I don't think there is an easy solution to what you are thinking.. not through the GUI and any back end effort (Db or API) wouldn't be worth the headache. we also have a large number of emails (Over 600) but it isn't that difficult to manage (so far).
Notifications Alerts and Alerts have always been tricky for us as well but thats due to managing the support "template" standard content as opposed to end user communications. We generally have one core team that gets notified for any failures but I imagine eveyones needs are different.
I like the concept of a template based system but I find that template alerts are more often ignored if they appear "canned"
I like the flexibility in the events+actions model as you can take multiple actions based on varied criteria.. It has luckily allowed us to meet any user requirements for alerting based on individual job exit criteria (status, exit codes, etc.)