Musician will perfom live to ‘Phantom of the Opera’ in Ditmas Park church

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This phantom of the opera is always keeping score.

A visiting organist will play live music to the 1925 silent film version of “The Phantom of the Opera” at Our Lady of Refuge Church in Ditmas Park on Oct. 17. Cleveland ivory-tickler Todd Wilson, who has performed to “Phantom” nearly 50 times, said he will change his tune — literally — at the film’s climactic moments.

“It is a real sort of home-brewed musical stew,” said Wilson, who plays each scene with different eerie, maniacal melodies. “I have little themes for all the main characters, the scary parts, and the love scenes.”

Wilson, who usually dons a phantom-style cape while performing, has been adding live soundtracks to silent films for nearly 30 years. He has played alongside other black-and-white pictures, but Wilson said “The Phantom of the Opera” has always been his favorite.

The old-fashioned flick never gets monotonous for Wilson — or his audiences — because of the actors’ ability to create suspense, all in the blink of an eye, he said.

“It is one of the masterpieces — great acting, great cinematography — of any period,” said Wilson, who is head of the Organ Department at the Cleveland Institute of Music. “How many different emotions they get across — it is really an art form.”

The chilling tale is especially ideal in October, because the spooky soundtrack sets the stage for the upcoming seasonal festivities.

“Everybody wants to do ‘Phantom of the Opera’ around Halloween — adults, kids, in between,” he said. “It is perfect.”

“The Phantom of the Opera” with Todd Wilson at Our Lady of Refuge Church [2020 Foster Ave. at Ocean Avenue in Ditmas Park, (718) 434–2090,]. Oct. 17 at 7:30 pm. $20 ($15 advance).

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at or by calling (718) 260–4507. Follow her
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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