Death of US opera star who played Jesus Christmain
Claude Heater made his first splash in the 1952 world premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti. He sang three years as a baritone at the Vienna State Opera and eight at San Francisco before pushing his voice up to Heldentenor range and making a Wagnerian career.
His greatest role, however, went uncredited. He performed as a body double for Jesus Christ in the blockbuster movie Ben Hur. His face was unseen and his voice unheard, but his hands were just right.
Claude Heater died in San Francisco on May 28 after a long illness. He was 92.