-- A Massachusetts grocery store employee is stopping customers in their tracks at Russo’s, a 100 year old specialty fruit, vegetable and flower company in Watertown with his beautiful operatic singing voice.
Gilly Assuncao, originally from Brazil, said he used to be a professional singer in Brazil. Since he moved to the United States two years ago, he hasn’t continued with his passion, he said, and very few people know about his background.
"My biggest dream is to study music at Berklee [College of Music] in Boston,” Assuncao, 23, told ABC News. "But it’s really expensive and my family cannot help me with that and being an international student makes it harder."
"My dad loves music and always plays classical music in the store. And during the holidays he likes to have live opera and classical Christmas songs performed for our customers,” one of the owners’ daughters, Karen Russo, told ABC News.
On Friday night, Assuncao stepped in to help the musical act the store hired with their sound check. Once his voice started echoing through the aisles, all the employees who had stayed late to help close the store knew they had stumbled upon something special.
“I hear this incredible operatic sound coming from the greenhouse,” another daughter, Christina Russo, 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.”
She said all of the employees of the family-owned business were entranced by Assuncao’s singing ability.
“We all just sat there, a working class group of people, and watched Gilly just transcend this store,” said Christina Russo. “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 said he has been overwhelmed and completely shocked by all the attention.
“I honestly was not expecting that at all,” he said. “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.”
Store owner, Tony Russo, said he’s proud to employ such a stand-up young man.
"He didn’t have the perfect childhood. He didn’t have the perfect adolescence," said Tony Russo. "Everything was the opposite of that and he survived that. He deserves some chance in life like this. He’s got a lot of talent. He’s a decent, decent young man, and he’s got a great talent."