Commissioned by Santa Fe Opera, Bel Canto was slated to debut during the company's 50th-anniversary season. According to the company, Kernis will not be able to finish it in time for the premiere.
"We regret that we will not be able to present Bel Canto in 2006," Santa Fe Opera general director Richard Gaddes said in a written statement. "We have the utmost regard for Mr. Kernis, and hope that an opportunity will arise to work together in the future."
The opera, based on a novel by Anne Patchett, follows an internationally renowned soprano to an unnamed South American country. She arrives at the vice president's home for a lavish dinner, but finds herself a hostage when guerrillas storm the party.
Kernis, 44, is one of the youngest composers to win the Pulitzer Prize, which he received in 1998 for his String Quartet No. 2. Bel Canto is his first opera.