'Chatterton' was a failure, but 'La Bohème' , though somewhat cast into the shade by Puccini's work upon the same subject, scored a decided success. Leoncavallo's music is conceived in a totally different mood from that of Puccini.
Leoncavallo's latest work, 'Der Roland, was written in response to a commission from the German Emperor, who believed that he had found in the composer of 'I Medici' a musician worthy to celebrate the mighty deeds of the Hohenzollerns. 'Der Roland' was produced in a German version at Berlin in 1904, and in spite of Court patronage failed completely.
Be this as it may, Leoncavallo's version has the merit of brevity, conciseness, ingenuity, and swift action, closing in a dénouement of great tragic power and capable, in the hands of a good actor, of being made very effective. The composer has not alone been charged with borrowing the story, but also with plagiarizing the music.