Jason Berger has always loved singing, and from time to time, the Starbucks barista just can't resist belting out a tune at work.
He doesn't do it often, but during one of Berger's recent shifts, a customer from Italy asked him to sing a little something, and the 28-year-old happily obliged. As the barista broke out into a stunning opera song, he had no idea that the customer's wife, Kaylan Wetzel, just happened to be filming him.
Wetzel, an actress who studied voice and musical theater, said she was in awe of Berger's talent and felt compelled to share it. "I know a good voice when I hear it and his is stellar! I did not expect it at all," she told TODAY Food.
As it turns out, this wasn't the first time Berger had sung for Wetzel's husband Gianluca in the Wilmington, Delaware Starbucks.
"Jason [had previously] noticed my husband's accent and mentioned that he studied opera in Italy (he's conversant in Italian). My husband was shocked at how good his Italian is and he loves opera, so he asked him to sing! We were blown away at his talent," she said.
Berger, who also works at a local pizza joint, has trained extensively in the music field and received a graduate vocal performance diploma from the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University in 2018. Since then, he's been working several jobs while pursuing his goal of working as a full-time singer.
"My dream is to be a soloist at major opera houses across the globe, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, and as musical theater is a passion of mine as well, I would love to be in a Broadway show," he told TODAY.
In addition to his two jobs, Berger serves as a tenor section leader in the choir at Westminster Presbyterian Church and works as a freelance singer. Last November, he made his debut as a soloist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and also sang in two productions with OperaDelaware last spring.
Still, the talented tenoradmits that he doesn't often sing when he's at work: "I (and many other opera singers) don't love just singing on the spot like that. Because we have trained so hard for so many years, we believe that if we just sing on the spot without doing the proper warm-ups and without properly preparing that it doesn't necessarily do justice to our work."
At the same time, Berger feels grateful for the overwhelmingly positive response his video has received and hopes it encourages more people to appreciate the opera music that means so much to him.
"I hope the joy that people get from watching my video is a reminder that the arts are a necessity, not a luxury. The arts are what make us human, they heal people and they bridge divides and they bring light into a world that is so often filled with divisiveness and hate," he said. "This issue is personal for me. I am a bisexual man and I grew up with learning disabilities and I never fit in; the arts gave me a place where I could thrive and a place where I belonged."
So, what's next for this burgeoning opera star? Next week, he will join OperaDelaware for their spring festival as a member of their young artists program.
Something tells us we'll be hearing a lot more of Berger's beautiful voice in the years to come!