Escamillo's bullfight is about to start. The excited crowd cheers when the quadrille of bullfighters and their assistants enter the arena. This song reprises the famous melodies foreshadowed in the overture.
This song is supposed to continue seamlessly into a duet for Carmen and Escamillo. The four diminuendo notes from the 1st horn connecting the parts are omitted here and have been included at the start of the duet.