Tommervik: Decco Spock


The story: Lieutenant Spock, a half-human, half-Vulcan Federation Starfleet officer, deceives his captain and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise, leading them to starbase M-11, a remote outpost where an accident has left his former commanding officer Christopher Pike gravely injured. When they arrive, Spock conspires to abduct Pike and commit mutiny, setting a course for a forbidden region of the galaxy. His prisoner, a former captain of the Enterprise, is paralyzed and mute, but conscious, and fully aware of his surroundings. Contrasted with his still body, a display of vibrant brain imaging technology reveals the workings of Pike's active mind: mixtures of loathing, desire, hope, and fear, as he contemplates what lies ahead.

When Spocks treachery is revealed, Zuna Tor, M-11s Vulcan commanding officer at the starbase, joins James KirkSpocks current captain, and a flame from her pastto chase the Enterprise in a smaller craft. As officers aboard the Enterprise grow suspicious of Spocks intentions, Spock confesses to his deception and submits himself for arrest, and allows Kirk and Tor aboard. He refuses, however, to release the ship from its locked guidance system. While they speed toward an uncertain fate, Spock insists on an immediate trial for his crimes, and refuses to speak until his trial aboard the Enterprise has begun.

In his own defense, Spock tells of Pikes attempts, long ago, to rescue a band of humans lost on Talos IV, a planet in the forbidden region that lies ahead. The planets inhabitants are longtime enemies of the Federation, and can produce powerful illusions drawn from an adversarys own psyche. Spock supports his story with a strange and dubious holographic record of Pike as a younger man on the planet, lured into conflict against his own memories, nightmares, and delusions. At the core of his struggle is Vina: a woman who might be a concoction of his dreams, or a figment of blurred memoriesa Eurydice to his Orpheus, awaiting rescue from this surreal underworld. Or maybe she is reala woman whose initiative and determination, obscured at first by Pikes fantasies, could restore Pike to a virtual body and renewed life.

As Spocks testimony intensifies, he entangles his jury in mixtures of past and present, fiction and truth, frustration and hope. Captain Pike experiences his own past anew, while Kirk and Tor, aware of the peril that awaits them aboard a vessel they can't control, struggle to make sense of their slowly unfolding fate.

Composer’s note: Our story differs a little from the 1966 double-episode Menagerie. Most significantly: to create prominent soprano, mezzo, and alto roles, the role of Vina is made more central to the plot, and two male characters are remade as women: Dr. Boyce and Commodore Mendez (now Zuna Tor). In the television episode, Captain Pike expressed himself only through lights indicating yes or no; in our version he communicates emotions along a gamut from affirmation to negation, attraction to repulsion, through his visible neural activity—foregrounding the original episode’s overarching message about the mental union of virtual and actual life. Behind those developments, however, we maintain one of Star Trek’s most compelling emotional landscapes: that of Spock’s evolving sense of self and purpose in his mostly human surroundings. The composer and co-librettists have permission from CBS television to develop this project for limited non-commercial presentations.