“The Sydney Opera House has raised the public curtain on its $150 million-plus transformation of the Concert Hall,” writes Linda Morris in Saturday’s (5/7) Sydney Morning Herald (Australia). “Once derided by actor John Malkovich for its ‘hideous’ acoustics and ‘continent-sized’ stage, the new acoustically enhanced Concert Hall is the final project in the Opera House’s renewal ahead of its 50th birthday celebrations next year. Simone Young will lead the Sydney Symphony Orchestra back on stage on July 20, two years after the hall shut down for the renovation…. Gone are the 21 donuts that were deployed at half ceiling height to suppress and dampen echoes…. In their place are 18 petal-shaped fibreglass discs that act as acoustic reflectors…. With new wooden reflectors affixed to the Concert Hall walls, sound will be distributed more evenly…. ‘The problem with the Concert Hall is when you are playing on one side you can’t hear the musicians on the other side,’ NSW Arts Minister Ben Franklin said. ‘That’s exactly what these design features are going to address.’ ” The government contributed $234 million to renovations at the Concert Hall and other venues at the Opera House, “with the Opera House contributing more than $50 million.”