Figaro  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The term Figaro may refer to any of the following:

  • Figaro, the central character in:

Figaro is inspired by the Commedia dell'arte character of Brighella, and like his predecessor he is a clever liar; moral and yet unscrupulous; good humored, helpful and brave, though somewhat embittered and cynical. As he says in The Barber of Seville: "I must force myself to laugh at everything lest I be obliged to weep." Though he is normally calm, collected and intelligent, he can be irrational when angered. The name 'Figaro' was invented by Beaumarchais for this character, and it has been theorized by Frédéric Grendel that it is made from a phonetic transcription of the words "fils Caron" (Caron having been the given surname of the playwright.)

The role was created in The Barber of Seville by Beaumarchais's friend Préville. However, when The Marriage of Figaro went into production almost a decade later, he felt himself too old to repeat the part and turned it over to fellow actor Jean Dazincourt.

According to the information Figaro gives at various points throughout the plays, his life story appears to be thus: he was the illegitimate son of Dr. Bartholo and his maid Marceline, and presumably therefore given his mother's family name, was born Emmanuel de Verte-Allure. He was kidnapped as a baby and raised by gypsies, who are probably the ones that renamed him Figaro. After he grew "disgusted with their ways" he left to become a surgeon, and apparently took up a short-term job in the household of Count Almaviva during this time to support himself. Though the Count referred to him as a "rather bad servant," he was pleased enough with Figaro to write him a recommendation to the Bureau in Madrid, where he was given a job as an assistant veterinary surgeon, much to his disappointment. While working there, he began dabbling in a literary career, apparently with great success. He was fired from the Bureau but stayed on in Madrid for a time trying to work as a publisher and playwright. He angered the censors with several of his works, and was briefly imprisoned. Eventually he gave up writing, and set himself up as a barber surgeon. After "pensively proceeding through the two Castilles, la Mancha, Extremadura, the Sierra Morena, and Andalusia" he set up shop in Seville, where he became reacquainted with Count Almaviva, and after assisting him with some romantic troubles, was hired as the Count's personal valet. He evidently retains this position for the remainder of his life. It is after he returns to work for the Count that he marries Suzanne, though at what point he met her is unclear. Given that Suzanne's uncle Antonio works for the Count, it seems likely she was hired on his recommendation when the Countess moved into the palace and a maid was needed for her, in which case she and Figaro would have met after the events of The Barber of Seville.

In The Barber of Seville, Rosine claims that Figaro has a daughter, but since this is never mentioned again by any other characters or in the other plays, and since it comes up during a lie Rosine tells to conceal her relationship with the Count, it is probable that she made this up. In The Guilty Mother, the children of the Count and Countess are named, but no offspring from Figaro or Suzanne are referenced which suggests they remain childless.

Publications

  • Le Figaro, the oldest extant newspaper in France.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Figaro" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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