Cavalli was born at Crema, Lombardy. He became a singer at
St Mark's in Venice in 1616, then he was organist there, and in 1668 he became maestro di cappella.
He began to write for the theatre in 1639. Soon after that the
first public opera house opened in Venice. Cavalli became so famous that he was invited to Paris in 1660 where he performed his opera Xerxes. He visited Paris again in 1662. He died in Venice at the age of 73.