Prelude to the opera Colas Breugnon, written by Dmitri Kabalevsky in 1937 and first performed on 22nd February 1938 at the Maliy Opera Theater in St. Petersburg.
The composer revised the entire opera in the late 1960s and its first performance was staged in the same venue on 16th April 1970.
Although the opera is rarely performed, the overture remains a popular concert piece due to its length—about five minutes—its lively orchestration, and instant accessibility. It has also become a favorite of orchestras and percussionists alike as an audition piece, thanks to its generous xylophone part.
The “Colas Breugnon Overture” is not at all difficult to find on CD, and here are but a handful of recordings on which it appears: Dmitri Kabalevsky: Romeo and Juliet/Colas Breugnon/The Comedians by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra; Kabalevsky: Piano Concerto No. 2 (revised version)/Piano Concerto No. 3/Colas Breugnon Overture/The Comedians by the BBC Philharmonic; and, Kabalevsky: The Comedians/Romeo and Juliet/Colas Breugnon by the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra recordings
Conductor – Fritz Reiner
RCA 5602 (CD: Tchaikovsky “Pathetique” Symphony)
RCA 82876 61394-2 (CD: Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition; A Night on Bald Mountain)
Edmonton Symphony Orchestra recordings
Conductor – Uri Mayer
SMCD 5069 (CD: Canadian and Russian Overtures)
Minnesota Orchestra recordings
Conductor – Eiji Oue
RR 92CD (CD: Bolero!)