1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Figaro

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FIGARO, a famous dramatic character first introduced on the stage by Beaumarchais in the Barbier de Séville, the Mariage de Figaro, and the Folle Journée. The name is said to be an old Spanish and Italian word for a wigmaker, connected with the verb cigarrar, to roll in paper. Many of the traits of the character are to be found in earlier comic types of the Roman and Italian stage, but as a whole the conception was marked by great originality; and Figaro soon, seized the popular imagination, and became the recognized representative of daring, clever and nonchalant roguery and intrigue. Almost immediately after its appearance, Mozart chose the Marriage of Figaro as the subject of an opera, and the Barber of Seville was treated first by Paisiello, and afterwards in 1816 by Rossini. In 1826 the name of the witty rogue was taken by a journal which continued till 1833 to be one of the principal Parisian periodicals, numbering among its contributors such men as Jules Janin, Paul Lacroix, Léon Gozlan, Alphonse Karr, Dr Veron, Jules Sandeau and George Sand. Various abortive attempts were made to restore the Figaro during the next twenty years; and in 1854 the efforts of M. de Villemessant were crowned with success (see Newspapers: France).

See Marc Monnier, Les Aieux de Figaro (1868); H. de Villemessant, Mémoires d’un journaliste (1867).