Carmen meets Sgt. Gomes

My singing teacher gave me the Habenera from Carmen. World famous and very cool but still there is something myterious about this person. Unfortunately I can’t remember so much of Katharina Herb’s Carmen, who – by the way – published one of my photographs on her website! So I started reading the opera’s story and constructed my own scene. The synopsis said: A square in Seville, barracks, the soldiers of the guard are chatting and watching the girls coming by. Then changing of the guard…

What came to my mind was a place Sacavém/Lisbon, barracks of the Batalão de Adidos. We leave the barracks in the morning, after having reported to Sergeant Gomes (say: Gomesh), the lady who speaks some English and wanted to see my passport. At the gate, the changing of the guards is in process. When I pass by, I smile at the soldiers, who must be confused about all the young ladies, and smilingly salute to them. The other girls giggle and we leave the barracks.
Coming back in the evening we wait in front of the gate until the one sentry post who sits in his little cabin becomes aware of us. It is 2300 hours, he watches TV, some couple is just kissing widly. Cliché!

Batalão de Adidos in Sacavém, Lisbon

The next morning, breakfast in the officers’ mass, the girls discribe the coffee as “Plörre”, an officers comes, stops 2 m in front of our table, greets us with military courtesey, and delivers a message. Okay, maybe that’s where the Carmen parallel definately has stopped, but the beginning, that changing of the guards and stupid me saluting to them out of pure fun is just how I would imagine this opera to begin! 😀

We spent ten days down there in Lisbon, sleeping in the quarters of the female sergeants of the Portuguese Army, and being tremendously proud of that. It were some of the greatest ten days…

Sleeping quarters

Sergeant's barracks

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