As Pietro Cesti baptized, he entered the age of fourteen in the Franciscan Order and took the name of religious name Antonio. The entrance into a religious order was the only way to get a musical education for him, as for many other young people of his time. He was educated in Rome by Giacomo Carissimi and held thereafter various church music positions in Italy, he was but twenty organist of the Cathedral and music masters of the seminar in Volterra, 1647 he also appeared as a singer in the newly restored Theatre of Siena. 1650 was Cesti in Florence, where he is regardless of his religious profession soon made a name in the theater world. So he sang in Francesco Cavalli opera Giasone in Lucca, which earned him a warning to the Minorite. Nevertheless, he felt strong enough, in 1651 and 1652 to put in his first two operas in Venice scene. In the years 1652-1657 Cesti was appointed Kapellmeister chamber, so as music director, the private chapel of the Archduke Ferdinand Karl in Innsbruck. There he produced along with fellow native of Arezzo librettist Giovan Filippo Apolloni three performances, which have had great success even by Italian standards: Argia was performed in honor of the newly converted to Catholicism, Queen Christina of Sweden, on the way to Rome in Innsbruck station made. 1656 followed Orontea the occasion of Carnival and La Dori 1657th
Cesti had issued in 1659 on the orders of the Franciscan Order in Rome itself, where he is absolved from the vow, sang in the Sistine Chapel and composed.
In the years 1665-1667 he served as Kapellmeister at the court of Emperor Leopold I in Vienna and composed there for the wedding reception of the Emperor his most famous opera, Il Pomo d' oro. Ultimately Cesti returned to Italy because he did not like the prescribed pageantry in Vienna. 1669 he worked at the court of Archduke in Florence, Siena he has led opera performances and also for Venice, he took orders. Cesti was next to Francesco Cavalli 's most important opera composer of his time.
The first name Marc ' Antonio, who appears frequently in the literature, was given to him by mistake.