From the recording Zappanation

Zappanation Furthers Expands the Scope of the Eclectic Musical Offerings From the Drummer, Composer, and Rhythmic Storyteller

The world of Zappanation, is a particularly outrageous one even for Sean Noonan, whose past works have related tales of a street-smart boxer and of an Irish gambler trapped inside a wall. Here, the story refracts Mozart’s brothel-set opera The Abduction from the Seraglio through the bawdy humor and musical inventiveness of Frank Zappa and the percussive abstractions of Edgar Varèse.

Zappanation (whose title mashes together Zappa’s name with the title of Varèse’s most well-known composition “Ionisation”) was commissioned by Italy’s Sant’anna Jazz Festival and had its Italian premiere in 2016. Noonan had never met the members of the vocal quartet prior to the festival, so he was thrilled when he discovered their vocal abilities and willingness to experiment.

From the drum kit, Noonan plays a young boy abandoned by his embittered war veteran father to grow up in a swingers’ club. As he pays back the old man’s debts by playing in the club orchestra, the boy meets a variety of zany characters portrayed by a virtuosic and fearless Sardinian a cappella choir: soprano Alice Madeddu, mezzo-soprano Eva Pagella, tenor Matteo Siddi, and bass Manuel Cossu.

“It’s fun to collaborate with musicians that come from a different place and tradition,” Noonan states, “These singers have done everything from opera to musical theater to rock music and folk singing. As a drummer it gave me absolute freedom to express myself, and as a composer I could take various kinds of risks and they, in turn, enjoyed the challenge.”

Ironically, Noonan had never been a Zappa acolyte, despite parallels between the two iconoclastic and self-sufficient composers. “I never really checked out Frank Zappa extensively until Zappanation was commissioned,” the drummer admits, “but especially when I play in Germany and England, people always tell me that I’m just like Zappa. The connection I feel to him is really because, like me, he did everything on his own. He was really a workaholic.”

Zappanation will be released both on CD and digital and includes a bonus video performance of the entire German premiere concert of Zappanation, which took place on May 12, 2018, at Alte Kaserne, Landshut, Germany.


Zappanation is a surreal rock opera composed in the provocative and inventive spirit of Frank Zappa and Edgard Varèse. It began in 2016 at the Sant’Anna Arresi Jazz Festival in Sardinia. The story refracts Mozart’s brothel-set opera The Abduction from the Seraglio through the bawdy humor and musical inventiveness of Zappa and the percussive abstractions of Varèse.

Norbert Buerger as "Evil Papa" (guitar/beat box)
Alice Madeddu as “Bubbles” (soprano)
Eva Pagella as “Butterflies” (alto)
Matteo Siddi as "Jesus" (tenor)
Manuel Cossu as "Tad, aka The Aqua Diva”
Mandhira de Saram (violin 1)
Patrick Dawkins (violin 2)
Richard Jones (viola)
Val Welbanks (cello)
Harry Saltzman (saxophone)
Johnny Richards (keyboards)
Michael Bardon (bass)
Sean Noonan as "The Boy" (drums/vocals/composer)

Sandy Sokoloff original painting Archangel Chamiel’
Malcolm Mooney art advisor
Matthias Gleixner graphic design
Michal Kupicz CD mixing/mastering engineer

Studio Recording at TY Studios London September 4, 2016
Video on May 12, 2018 at Alte Kaserne, Landshut, Germany

Download audio and watch video of Zappanation
Password: WelcometoZappanation

All compositions and lyrics by Sean Noonan SPNoonan ASCAP
Noonanmusic - NM1010