Gilly Assuncao’s co-workers never knew about his hidden talent. They thought he was just an ordinary deli guy at Russo’s grocery store in Watertown, Massachusetts.
But then one night Assuncao grabbed a microphone and started belting out beautiful, operatic melodies, and the employees of Russo’s knew they had a special musical talent in their midst.
Since then, Assuncao has serenaded customers and fellow employees during shopping hours with classical opera tunes and Christmas carols. His performances have gone viral as Russo’s has posted them on its Facebook page.
“My dad loves music and always plays classical music in the store,” Karen Russo, the owners’ daughter, told ABC News. “And during the holidays he likes to have live opera and classical Christmas songs performed for our customers.”
So, last Friday night, the musicians the store had hired were doing their sound check when Assuncao stepped in to help them. Once his voice started ringing through the store, his co-workers were amazed.
“I hear this incredible operatic sound coming from the greenhouse,” Christina Russo, another of the owners’ daughters, told ABC News. “I kept walking closer and I thought it was definitely some kind of tape recording. Then I saw it was Gilly standing there with a microphone. I thought, ‘Oh, he must be lip syncing.’ I thought this was a joke. All this opera is wafting in and out of the store, and I’m convinced this is all a big joke, but I proceeded to just have my mind blown. I could not believe this was happening.”
Assuncao, who hails from Brazil, told ABC News he was a professional singer in his home country. But he said he didn’t continue with his passion after moving to the United States two years ago, and very few people know about his singing background.
“My biggest dream is to study music at Berklee [College of Music] in Boston,” Assuncao said. “But it’s really expensive and my family cannot help me with that, and being an international student makes it harder.”
As Assuncao, 23, sang for the first time Friday night, his fellow Russo’s employees were captivated.
“We all just sat there, a working-class group of people, and watched Gilly just transcend this store,” Christina Russo said. “It was unbelievable. We’re all in our work clothes and it was really remarkable. It really goes to show we don’t know who we work with sometimes, and it’s so rare you have this experience where their private life comes to full force at work. It was one of the greatest moments in the company, for sure.”
Assuncao feels overwhelmed by all the attention he has received.
“I honestly was not expecting that at all,” he said, according to ABC News. “I just thought it was going to be a cool performance here in the store. I love singing and was really excited, but I didn’t expect this at all.”