Are there any sections of the opera repertory NOT sung by the leads that really get to you? This morning I made my self cry by singing the section at the very end of the fanciulla del West where Sonora sings, "Le tue parole sono di Dio..." to Minnie..That is one of the most emotional sections of ANY opera, and yet it is not sung by any of the leading characters. Can we think of any other sections of any work where a non-leading character gets to sing some gorgeous music?
I could add that one line of Annina in Act Four Traviata where she tells Violetta of Alfredo's coming,and sings "Una gioja improvissa" and also the first Nazarene in Salome has some of the most gorgeous music Strauss ever wrote. I will also add the Friar in Don Carlo in the Monastery scene where he sings, "allo spirto,adolorato..." So perhaps you can come up with some more like these?? as ever Charlie
Io de' sospiri which opens Act III of Tosca comes to mind. The character of the shepherd boy is incidental to the plot and the vocal line isn't especially demanding but the scene sets up a temporary sense of comfort before the opera's inevitable tragic end.