There are plenty of things you might expect to see and hear together, but a man singing “Ave Maria” in the middle of Disney World while wearing a sports jersey? Well, that’s probably not one of them.
Justin Gigliello was staying at the Grand Floridian Resort with his family. They were in Orlando to enjoy the park. On this particular day, they crossed the hotel lobby to go get some lunch when they spotted a piano player.
Gigliello’s 6-year-old daughter, Lyla, first wanted to dance around with him.
But then, she went up to the pianist with another question.
“He finished his song and she said, ‘My daddy plays piano,’” said Gigliello. “I said, ‘I sing more.’”
That’s not exactly accurate.
To be more specific, Gigliello is a classically-trained opera singer with a degree from the Boston Conservatory. And he was about to show off the skills that no one expected to come from the casually-dressed man enjoying Disney with his family.
The pianist started to play “Ave Maria,” and Gigliello sang. His voice filled the lobby of the hotel, stopping visitors in their tracks.
Meanwhile, Lyla gazed up at her dad with a smile on her face.
When the song faded away, Gigliello turned to her right away and gave her a smile, then turned to sheepishly accept the outbreak of applause from all over the hotel.
His amazing voice made people stop to listen in amazement. They pulled out cell phones to record him, stunned by his powerful operatic performance.
Gigliello was stunned and happy by the reception but he gives all the credit to Lyla.
“People started stopping and at the end just hearing the applause and I just couldn’t believe it,” he said. “It’s because of Lyla. Lyla made this happen. It was all her.”
After seeing the way his live audience responded, Gigliello decided to upload the video onto his own Twitter account. There, it quickly went viral, with thousands of views racking up. Meanwhile, people were moved not just by Gigliello’s astounding voice but also by the sight of his daughter gazing lovingly at him as he sang.
“Your voice was so beautiful, and the look of adoration on your little girl’s face was priceless,” wrote one Twitter user. “I cried.”
Since then, Gigliello has appeared on Fox and Friends and was personally thanked by Disney CEO Bob Iger.
Lyla herself was extremely proud of her talented dad and thrilled by the attention his performance got.
It’s no wonder that Lyla loves her dad so much and is so proud of his talents. Her mother says they sing together at home in Connecticut and her father puts her to bed each night with a song. The couple has their own underwriting business while Gigliello teaches piano and gives singing lessons. He is also a volunteer firefighter with the North Stonington Volunteer Fire Department.
As for Lyla, she’s thinking about becoming a singer herself.
Gigliello often visited Disney World with his family during his own childhood and stayed in another hotel nearby. He said it was a surreal experience to return and sing there with his own daughter. And he couldn’t be happier about it.
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