Justin Gigliello knows that he might not seem like the type of guy who could belt out a bit of operatic singing at the drop of a hat.
He has a scruffy beard and a close-cropped haircut, wears football jerseys, and speaks with a thick New England accent.
But the doubters who might judge him by his outward appearance would be sorely mistaken.
The Connecticut father is enjoying a bit of Internet fame this month after a video of him delivering a moving rendition of “Ave Maria” for his 6-year-old daughter in the lobby at Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort recently went viral.
The 30-year-old Lynnfield native and avid New England Patriots fan said he was at lunch while on vacation last month with his daughter, Lyla, and wife, Lauren, when he started telling them about his trips to Disney as a kid.
“I was telling my daughter that we would go to the Grand Floridian to listen to the music, and sit there in the lobby,” Gigliello, who is a volunteer firefighter, said in a telephone interview. “So she said after lunch she wanted to go over there and do it.”
When the family arrived at the hotel, they watched as a pianist fluttered his fingers across the keys. When the performer stopped playing for a moment, Gigliello’s daughter walked up to him and said her father could also play piano and sing.
The pianist asked Gigliello’s daughter if she had any requests, and she replied, “Ave Maria.”
As the music started to play, Gigliello put his talent on display.
“I just did it on the spot,” he said.
Gigliello’s wife stepped back to get her husband’s performance on video.
Later, Gigliello, who has a degree in voice performance from the Boston Conservatory, posted the video to Facebook. From there, it took off.
“I shared it on Facebook to have former professors and friends from college see it, and then it started getting shared from there” on Disney fan pages, he said. “That’s how it ended up going viral.”
In the two-minute clip, which has been shared nearly 10,000 times, people can be seen stopping dead in their tracks at the sound of Gigliello’svoice. His daughter stands close by, looking up at her father — decked out in shorts and a football jersey — adoringly and with pride.
“Everyone was shocked,” he said. “I think [my outfit] adds to the shock . . . People just don’t expect that coming out of me. It adds to the excitement I think.”
In the last few weeks, Gigliello’s singing has led to national news coverage — including on “Good Morning America” — and landed him an appearance on ET Online (where he also sang a rendition of “Baby Shark”). He even performed “Ave Maria” again, this time on “Fox & Friends” last week with his wife and daughter by his side.
When he later shared the video on Twitter, it grabbed the attention of Robert Iger, chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, who personally thanked Gigliello for entertaining guests.
Justin: Thanks for entertaining the people in the lobby of the Grand Floridian and thanks for sharing your wonderful voice with us!— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) March 30, 2019
“It’s crazy,” Gigliello said. “It’s been completely nuts. Every day.”
Gigliello, who teaches after-school piano and voice lessons, said he’s enjoying the fame and basking in the recognition for now, but if it leads to something bigger (perhaps a full-time singing gig) he’ll gladly take it.
“My family is taking it a day at a time, but if something does happen, who knows,” he said. “I want to stay in the moment, but I’m definitely pursuing it now.”
Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.