Staging of tragic opera is a unique Hong Kong-Europe collaboration The Hong Kong premiere of Werther, being staged at the Cultural Centre, is a prime example of the European Union's efforts to build 'cultural bridges'. Running for just three nights until tomorrow as part of Le French May, it is a unique European-Hong Kong collaboration of Jules Massenet's celebrated opera that has captivated audiences since 1892. The opera is based on a loosely autobiographical novel by the German literary giant Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, adapted by famed French director Jean-Louis Pichon. It stars renowned Hong Kong tenor Warren Mok in the lead role as Werther, with musical backing by Opera Hong Kong, which is joining forces with the Macau Orchestra for the first time. Included in the international cast is one of today's most exciting vocalists Denyce Graves as Charlotte. The opera is based on The Sorrows of Young Werther (originally entitled Die Leiden des jungen Werther and first published in 1774) which made Goethe one of the first true literary celebrities. As the title indicates, the collection of letters is not the cheeriest of stories and has even reduced audiences to tears. Werther, a highly sensitive and passionate young artist, ultimately shoots himself in despair at unrequited love for another man's wife. In his later years, Goethe distanced himself from The Sorrows of Young Werther, which was written when he was just 24, acknowledging the great personal and emotional impact it could exert on forlorn young lovers. However, the novel turned him from an unknown into a celebrated author practically overnight. Napoleon Bonaparte considered it one of the great works of European literature, carrying it with him on his military campaigns.