When I was at The Japan Times, I had a chance to do a feature piece on conductor Seiji Ozawa. The interview took place in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, during the Saito Kinen Festival, where Mr. Ozawa was going to conduct "Peter Grimes," an opera by Benjamin Britten. While I was there I had a chance to see the opera for the first time.
Peter Grimes is a fisherman who is ostracized from his community because of the death of his apprentice. Although the boy probably died in an accident, the people of the fishing village believe Grimes killed the boy and they do their best to shun him. Grimes takes on a new apprentice, John, and from fear and anger at his own isolation he begins to treat him roughly. Eventually, tragedy strikes as John dies in an accident.
So how is this relevant to this week's proverb? Well, a few weeks ago, I was sitting in a classroom chatting with a boy who was interested in writing. I gave him a link to a site where he could read some of my stories and articles. A week later, we were standing at the bus stop after class and he said, "You know, I was the kid in that opera." "Which opera?" I asked. "The opera you wrote about...Peter Grimes."
At that moment, my bus came so I wasn't able to ask him any more questions. But what were the chances?! He was in that production! There were a lot of young singers in the opera but because he said "the kid" he must have been the boy who sang the part of John. The following week, I found out that he had in fact played John. I couldn't believe he was now a college student!
These are examples of those coincidental encounters that if you saw it in a novel or a film you'd scoff and say, "I don't believe that. That's too contrived. It's not realistic." But it actually did happen. Fact is certainly stranger than fiction.
Here's another example. As you may know, I used to write a column in ST about my study-abroad experience. One reader of that column, Mr. U, just started his freshman year in a college in the States this September. There, at his new school, he met a professor/coordinator of ESL students, Mrs. B. It just so happened that Mrs. B had taught me 10 years ago as well.
Both Mr. U and Mrs. B wrote me e-mail to tell me about this. I'd been trying to get in touch with Mrs. B for a very long time, but I would have never imagined that a former ST reader would give me this great opportunity to reconnect with a great teacher.
Q1 Kana was surprised when she found out the boy in the classroom had:
A1) Conducted an opera she once watched.
A2) Watched the same opera that she had.
A3) Played one of the roles in an opera she once watched.
正解： A3) Played one of the roles in an opera she once watched.
Q2 A former reader of ST who went to study in the States:
A1) Asked Kana to introduce him to one of her former professors.
A2) Met one of Kana's former professors by coincidence.
A3) Accidentally chose the same college as Kana.
正解： A2) Met one of Kana's former professors by coincidence.