Father who went viral for singing 'Ave Maria' in Disney resort becomes part of Ormond Beach community

Meet one of Ormond's newest residents.


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  • | 4:20 p.m. September 28, 2020
  • Ormond Beach Observer
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Though he's been singing opera for 17 years, Justin Gigliello's favorite performance ever was an impromptu one. 

Back in April 2019, Gigliello was visiting Walt Disney World with his family, a tradition carried on from his parents, who used take him as a child every year. They would visit Disney's Grand Floridian resort and listen to the pianist in the lobby. So after eating lunch at the resort, Gigliello's daughter Lyla asked him to take her to listen to the music in the lobby. 

They danced to a few songs, and as they were getting ready to leave, then 6-year-old Lyla went over to the pianist and told him that her father loved to sing opera and asked him to play "Ave Maria." 

Gigliello, clad in a football jersey and khaki shorts, showcased his voice in a lobby of strangers, a moment caught on camera by his wife which later circulated social media and ended up being featured in "Good Morning America." Gigliello even made an appearance on "The Steve Harvey Show."

“It was just a family moment that turned into this viral sensation, I guess you could say," Gigliello said.

A screenshot of Justin Gigliello singing inside Disney's Grand Floridian Resort in 2019 as his daughter Lyla watches. Watch the video at https://youtu.be/i4_nDyjDVIs. Courtesy photo
A screenshot of Justin Gigliello singing inside Disney's Grand Floridian Resort in 2019 as his daughter Lyla watches. Watch the video at https://youtu.be/i4_nDyjDVIs. Courtesy photo

And that family moment inspired the Gigliello's recent move to Ormond Beach from the Boston area.

Discovering his voice

As a kid, Gigliello loved music. He and his dad used to listen to The Beatles and Frank Sinatra. Classical music wasn't on the radar; he played hockey and football, and only sang around the house for fun.

But, when his mother took note of his singing, she contacted a voice coach who told them Gigliello, who was 15 at the time, had a great operatic voice. 

“At that point, I didn’t really want to sing opera," Gigliello said. "I wanted to sing more R&B type of music, more Frank Sinatra type of music, but my teacher said, ‘Just try it. See how it goes,’ and I ended up falling in love with it.”

A baritone, he started getting lead roles in performances in high school and later attended the Boston Conservatory, where he graduated in 2011 with a degree in voice performance. 

Growing up, Gigliello said he struggled with bullying in school, even when he played sports. It wasn't until he started singing opera that he found a place where he felt accepted. 

When you wish upon a star

Gigliello, 32, is also a huge Disney fan. It's always been his "happy place," and it's something he shares with his family — Disney songs are played daily in the Gigliello household, and he and Lyla love to sing duets together. 

Now that they've moved to Ormond Beach, their happy place is no longer a plane ride away. Gigliello said he can't wait to become part of the Ormond community.

“Music is in the house constantly, every day," he said. "We’re constantly either singing to Disney music or playing around on the piano or just singing.”

Justin, Lauren and Lyla Gigliello. Courtesy photo
Justin, Lauren and Lyla Gigliello. Courtesy photo

Gigliello and his family also relocated in hopes of allowing Gigliello to pursue his dream to work for Disney. He'd love to sing at the Grand Floridian for Disney's fairytale weddings. 

And during weddings is how Lyla, now 8, first heard her father sing "Ave Maria." When he performed in weddings in Boston, she would sit in the back of the church and listen to him. 

His favorite part of performing is seeing the reactions from his audience. In the viral video of him singing at the Grand Floridian, Lyla looks up at him and smiles.

“As long as I can portray what I’m presenting in the right way, and they’re enjoying it, that means I did my job well," Gigliello said. "That’s what I love to see.”

 

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