In Don Giovanni, the title character's sexual exploits are made possible through the help of his loyal servant, Leporello. Despite making several comments to Don Giovanni about the immorality of his lifestyle, Leporello keeps guard for his master while he seduces, providing a distraction for husbands and former lovers. He has served faithfully for years, long enough to record eighteen hundred names in his catalogue. Exactly how long this took is open to interpretation. An average of one woman a night (which, though comically exaggerated, seems to fit in the context of the opera) would give us a bare minimum of five years; it is therefore quite reasonable to suggest that Don Giovanni could be a young man. If we imagine an older Don Giovanni, one whose seductions were more drawn out and who, perhaps, is attempting to return to the excesses of his youth, then Leporello has been with him much longer. He imitates Don Giovanni's seduction attempts and, though he goes into it reluctantly, enjoys deceiving Donna Elvira. Although he threatens to leave Don Giovanni more than once, he always returns. This back and forth is the result of Leporello's internal conflict between a moral condemnation of Don Giovanni's lifestyle and a desire to be like him.
"Voglio far il gentiluomo: Conflict in Don Giovanni's Leporello,"
Colgate Academic Review:
Vol. 5, Article 7.
Available at: http://commons.colgate.edu/car/vol5/iss1/7