Euthymia project began life in Turin in 2008 on the initiative of lyricist and writer Umberto Poli and of two musicians and composers with a solid classical background, Alan Brunetta (drums, arrangements) and Dario Mecca Aleina (keyboards, arrangements). Their aim was to blend theatre with progressive rock, Shakespeare and Lermontov with Arti e Mestieri, P.F.M., Le Orme or Emerson Lake & Palmer. In 2010 Euthymia released a debut album on the independent label Electromantic Music Records, a rock opera titled “L'ultima illusione” (The last illusion). It was produced by Arti e Mestieri's keyboardist Beppe Crovella and was dedicated to the memory of Stravos Chirico, the late son of Furio Chirico, drummer of Arti e Mestieri and The Trip. During the recording sessions the band collaborated with Simone Bellavia (bass), Chiara Raggi (vocals) and Sax Nicosia (narrative vocals) who completed the line up. The result is a fine mix of music and words, a subtle alchemy of poetry and musical colours that is really worth listening to.
The short opener, “Prologo”, sets the atmosphere and features narrative vocals that quote a passage from Demon, a poem by Russian Romantic writer, poet and painter Mikahil Yuryevich Lermontov. An evil creature is lurking in the dark, looking stealthily at a beautiful girl... “I will fly to you and I'll be your guest until the bright dawn comes, and I will send golden dreams to your eyelashes of silk...”. The following “Ouverture” is conceived as an instrumental introduction to the opera and anticipates some themes that will be developed as the opera unfolds.
The first act, “Atto I”, is divided into four sections: “Illusione 1” (Illusion 1), “La percezione del vuoto” (The perception of void), “Illusione 2 (Illusion 2)” and “Pensieri” (Thoughts). A boy takes his sweetheart back to her home after a night spent together. It's almost dawn and after a last kiss the boy walks away, happy. Since he met her everything has changed in his life... After a narrative part the rhythm takes off and you can hear for the first time the melodic singing of Chiara Raggi. The music and lyrics evoke hypnotic promises and sweet dreams of love, the boy can perceive the void in the distance that separates him from his girlfriend, dust of enchantment and unreality... “Listen to the call of the night...”. Then the narrative vocals come back to describe the meeting with a strange character, an old man dressed in black. The old man takes the boy by the arm... “Do you really think she loves you?” - He asks. Then the unknown man disappears and the boy thinks it was just an illusion. A dreamy, meditative instrumental part concludes the first act.
“Atto II” is divided into two sections, “La paura” (Fear) and “Un segreto inconfessabile” (An unspeakable secret). The man in black reappears. He speaks again to the boy and warns him: his sweetheart betrayed him and she does not deserve his love, so pure and faithful. She has to pay for that!Then the mysterious man conjures up a vision and the boy can see his girlfriend in the arms of another man. He's scared, he can't believe his eyes. Tension rises, there's an evil magic in the air and now narrative and melodic vocals interact while the music evokes a kind of Sabbath... “Open your mind / Set your fantasies free / I will show you an unspeakable secret...”.
“Atto III” is divided into two sections, “Disperazione” (Despair) and “Il siero dell'oblio” (The serum of oblivion). The boy looks lost, in dispair. The man conjures up another vision and promises to the boy gold and many other things... “I'm the antidote, I'm the cure for the illness that is devouring you... My powers are extraordinary... You will own everything that is real and everything that your fantasy will be able to conceive / You will forget pain, death and in exchange you will obtain eternal life and happiness...”. Then the soaring vocals of Chiara Raggi bring a bit of lightness while the boy's thoughts slowly begin to fall in the vortex of senses. Transparent as silk, the serum of oblivion begins to work... “To die, to sleep, maybe to dream...”.
“Atto IV” is divided in two sections, “Rifiuto” (Refusal) and “Luce nell'ombra” (Light in the shadow). Astonished by the magic of the man the boy asks him what he wants in exchange. “Nothing but the soul of the one who betrayed you...” - answers the man. But the boy refuses, he does not want to become slave of some evil illusions, he has to read the truth right in the eyes of his beloved girl but... “There’s no art. To find the mind’s construction in the face” (the quote is from Macbeth by William Shakespeare). The day after in morning the boy wakes up and runs to his sweetheart. He's as pale as a ghost, he loves her but he can't see into her heart... The music here is sweet and dreamy. “Please, tell me the truth... Beware! He's waiting in the shadow...”.
On “AttoV” - “Tradimento” (Betrayal) the music is tense, there's an impending sense of tragedy, there are some dark organ passages and a frenzied rhythm. At dusk an uninvited guest visits the girl... The last act, “Atto VI” - “Morte” (Death) is dark, haunting. The melodic vocals reveal all the fragility of the girl's soul. She's victim of her vanity, she can't resist the enticements of evil, eventually she succumbs to temptation. At dawn they find the boy dead at his desk. He's still holding a pen in his right hand, a paper in his left. On the paper just a bunch of words, his last love poem, his last illusion... On the whole, a really good album with a nice Gothic atmosphere!
Euthymia: L'ultima illusione (2010). Other opinions:
Jim Russell: The tracks have ample variation but there are repeating motifs that hold together the conceptual feel nicely. The stories are told in grandeur by very good male and female vocalists alternately, and also by sections of spoken word narration. This is one of those few albums where I wish I knew Italian. Honestly 98% of the time I don't care because I'm here for music, not words, and I consider the human voice just another beautiful instrument. But in this case I could discern that the lyrical themes were a big part of the experience... Bottom line this is an absolutely gorgeous symphonic progressive treat that will thrill fans of all prog-rock stripes, but especially those who love the "refined" side of things... (read the complete review HERE)